Ian Mikyska: Hearing not something, but rather according to something, with something
In June 2017, Ian Mikyska travelled to Armenia and Georgia. With Prokop Jelínek, they were recording audio and video material for a video installation at the Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art in Yerevan: Seeing not something, but rather with something, according to something (3. 10. – 14. 10. 2017). The material is also used in this purely sonic composition for Czech Radio: Hearing not something, but rather according to something, with something.
It is something like an experimental radio travelogue, using spoken word to lead the listener not only through real and specified locations, but also through individual components of musical and sonic structure. In addition to field recordings, the main sound sources are five- and six-string banjos. The attention of the listener is led from melody, as the principal musical – and therefore conceptual – element, through sonic information about the given environment, to the materiality of sound itself: often chaotic details, led by the properties and circumstances of the material and itssituation– both in the field recordings and the banjo: strings, drum head, bow, electromagnetic vibrations and various objects.
The title comes form the essay Eye and Mind by French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty – the quote originally speaks of seeing. Merleau-Ponty was proposing seeing as an activity that is in dialogue with the phenomena it encounters. Listening is approached in a similar way here – listening as tuning oneself to something. Sound leads us, transports us, and we can fully live this movement, and also reflect the methods by which this movement is enacted: through melody, harmony, rhythm or field recordings, that is, the creation of a virtual space, or through concentration on sound alone, in the sense of singular and constant focused attention.
We listen in different ways to music and to landscape. But if we let closer listening “lead”, the lines between these two poles are blurred; music becomes landscape, landscape becomes music. Concentration on a subsiding tone dissipates into the landscape. Slowness, silence and calmness – the calmness of cars, rain, fields, long tones – gives us the opportunity to consider our listening from a place of greater calm and concentration.
The project is supported by the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Yerevan and the Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art.