i’ve been working on the sound installation piece “o tfon itira” a bit more recently, making a trip back up to makota’ay to record inside the moon cave. the piece concerns ambivalence in two kinds of encounters with the cave: one ritual but no longer practiced, the other a touristic appropriation of the cave, which includes both ecological and sinophone aesthetic imaginations

touristic appropriation of the cave may focus on the amount of time necessary for the rock formations (can you remember which is the stalactite and which the stalagmite?) to form. otherwise, one might give these rock formations names based upon an assumed resemblance to gods in the chinese pantheon. as the recording i’ve sampled in the work demonstrates, one can also talk about the migratory patterns of bats: who knew that at some times of the year, only female bats frequent the cave, while in the winter and spring, the bats are in mixed sex and age groups? because the water in the cave is fresh water but exhibits tidal motion, not to mention houses a small colony of eels, you might wonder whence the water comes and where it is flowing. no one is sure. the cave is, in short, a place where one could experience wonder and become committed to environmental causes

i’ve mentioned before, however, that the cave is also a sacred site. although the rituals associated with the cave are no longer practiced, there were formerly taboos surrounding the cave; men, in particular, were forbidden

an anxiety about how to adjudicate these two encounters with the cave, whether we can ever evaluate these two kinds of goods, motivated me to create this experimental piece. because it is about encounter, i am hoping that i might mount it as part of an exhibit by my collaborator in this sound piece, rahic talif

the mockup of the installation appears on youtube

as for mounting the installation, my plan is to project an image of light shimmering across water and cave walls onto a rowboat placed within a dark room. the sound of the cave will come from speakers placed adjacent or within the rowboat; other sounds will be distributed in other speakers mounted in the walls of the space

construction of the piece required a great deal of work on abelton live. i should also give a shout out to oade brothers audio–the fostex deck that they modded has made wonderful recordings all year, the recordings from the interior of the cave no exception