Breath Song

Squamish, British Columbia, Canada

Video documentation of “Breath Song”

Installation view with projected poem on “cloud”

Installation view with projected poem on “cloud”

Installation view with projection

Installation view with projected poem on “cloud”

Installation view with projected poem on “cloud”

Process

Process

Process

Process

Process

Process

Installation view

Process: Installing the “cloud”

Recording breath cycles

Recording breath cycles

Process: re-arranging  the collected words to make the poem

The poem created by re-arranging  the collected words

Detail projected poem

Installation view with projection

Installation view with projected poem on “cloud”

Process

Details of projected poem

Installation view with projected poem on “cloud”

Words written by  participants after they observed their breath

Words written by  participants after they observed their breath

Words written by  participants after they observed their breath

Words written by  participants after they observed their breath

Words written by  participants after they observed their breath

Words written by  participants after they observed their breath

Words written by  participants after they observed their breath

Project Description: Individual breath cycles of 108 people living in the Squamish area were recorded to create a “breath symphony” composed with these sounds. Participants were also asked to write words that came to them as they focused on their breathing, that the artist formed into a poem to accompany the symphony.  This visual poem (composed of images and scanned handwritings of participants) was projected upon an ephemeral cloud like form made with sanded acrylic sheets installed by the river.

Read more about this project

Materials: Sanded Acrylic Sheets 8ft X 6ft, wood, projection, sound.

loading...
Loading Slideshow...
00 - bs2
01 - DSC_0758b
24 - breathsong2b
02 - DSC_0758c
03 - DSC_0758d
08 - DSC_0234
05 - DSC_0351
06 - DSC_0368
07 - DSC_0309
09 - DSC_0386
10 - DSC_0448
11 - DSC_0758
12 - DSC_0832
13 - microphone small
14 - DSC_0261
15 - DSC_0292
breathsong poem
16 - breathsong1a
17 - breathsong1c
20 - DSC_0714b
21 - DSC_0283
22 - DSC_0786e
23 - DSC_0790b
page1
page2
page3
page4
page5
page6
page7

BREATH SONG:

Artist proposal

 

“People are over-trained to look at things; if they could learn to look in-between them, whole universes would open up”

 -Swami Jnanananda Giri

I would like to invite a 108 people living in the Squamish area to let me briefly record the sound of their individual breath cycles (40 seconds or so). From these sounds I will create a “breath symphony”. Participants will also write out a word associated with breath. To give visual form to this, I will use my finger to trace out these words upon a window that is gently allowed to fog up with my exhalations. I will photograph these words and run them in a sequence to form a poem. This visual poem “breath song” will be projected out in nature on a transparent screen, appearing and disappearing like an ephemeral cloud, for the community to enjoy.

I have been a student (and teacher) of meditation for the last six years. As an artist and an aspiring Yogi, I have been observing and studying breath as the “gap”, the pause between words, as the vital animating force flowing through life forms, as the invisible thread weaving in and out of all beings. The intimate breath exhaled by one floats freely on air currents, to be received by another, oblivious of man made borders; a series of inhales and exhales shared all the way from New Delhi to Vancouver.

In meditation practices, breath is considered a subtle kind of “Border”, a diaphanous veil moving between the physical and energy (astral) world, the thread tying the spirit to the body. Riding the wave of the physical breath (often through “pranayama” practices in cycles of 108 breaths) is said to eventually bring us to the borderless place within us where unity with all existence is experienced.

I would like to conduct a series of workshops on breath, states of consciousness and interconnectedness and invite a 108 people living in the Vancouver area to let me record their individual breath cycles through a sensitive microphone. Often fueled by thought and action to change its qualities of rhythm, intensity, evenness and smoothness the breath often reveals one’s state of mind more deeply and accurately than words, facial expressions or body language. To give visual form to this I will have a framed glass “window” upon which I will request the participants to exhale, gently allowing the window to fog up. They will be asked to consider one word that they associate with breath and write (wipe) that out with their finger on this fogged window.

A video camera placed on the other side of this glass will simply capture a series of 108 words slowly appearing and disappearing with the condensing breath from the 108 mouths behind the word and potentially the writing of the words. I will then use this footage to create a “Breath Song” of Vancouver, arranging the sequence of words to form poems accompanied by the symphony of different breath rhythms and sounds. In its display for the Biennale, I envision this visual song projected onto a large (approximately 20ft X12ft) transparent surface (like 3m acetate or Plexiglas). Invisible and supported by an unobtrusive armature (perhaps a tree, a rock formation or subtle scaffolding) and placed in a relatively quiet, beautiful natural setting (preferably with flowing water or open sky behind it) these words would appear to condense and evaporate upon the landscape behind, alternately revealing and obscuring it, as the viewers listen to the breath symphony though speakers or headphones. I would also like to layer the sounds of these 108 breaths to come up with one breath – the “average breath of Vancouver”. I envision doing this project in 108 different cities and coming up with the Breath and Breath Songs of Delhi, Assisi, Chicago – many of the places I live in and travel through.