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Sonic Meditations ~ Lucy Heaton

By 24th June 2020News

Still from Pauline Oliveros’ 1975 performance “Rose Mountain Slow Runner” Costume for ‘Pauline Party’

I have been practicing sonic meditations regularly as part of a collective called Pauline’s Angels, guided by the work of experimental composer, Pauline Oliveros. Here is a link to a document which details the activities and their intentions. https://monoskop.org/images/0/09/Oliveros_Pauline_Sonic_Meditations_1974.pdf

We are guided by her scores which involve making, listening, imagining and thinking about sounds together, in order to gain a greater awareness of each other. Every week a different person leads the exercises and guides the group in different directions. Often exercises require a mixture of introspection and expanded awareness of others; with the emphasis on the shared experience. We have been listening together for around a year now and the process is a practice that constantly informs my other group performance work. The  experience shifts from powerful to playful to reflective to energising.

Since lockdown, we have been meeting weekly over zoom and shifted the focus of the practice. Rather than an embodied awareness of each other, we have been exploring Pauline’s diagrams, writings and movement scores.

These sessions have felt like a recurrent metronome, a regular and continuous beat I could return to when all my making felt out of kilter. A grounding and sustaining rhythm. The sonic meditations also became an invigorating avenue of creative communication and support, fostering friendships and self-care.  There is nothing like the joy of making strange noises with others in the face of a crisis! And with the artistic community of the art department physically dislocated, this virtual togetherness has been invaluable.

Last week we planned a “Pauline Party”: we thought it would be fun to dress up as Pauline Oliveros, making makeshift accordions. I got really into this playful process of inhabiting a figure whose work has a strong presence in my artistic and personal landscape. I made my accordion from paper painted black and made a mini set/backdrop for the ‘party’, with a vase of flowers.

During the ‘party’, we performed alongside Pauline, mirroring and listening to a video of her 1975 performance “Rose Mountain Slow Runner”. This can be viewed below at 1:23 into the video, http://ubu.com/film/aether_oliveros.html

This piece is very poignant and full of the depth of longing. I can specifically recall every time I have listened to it, and the physical and mental environment I was in: It holds for me in its long drawn out tones an acknowledgement of everything.

Listening to this piece in costume was a way of engaging with it from a different angle.It was fun to imagine how Pauline might have engaged with lockdown or might respond to our sessions. I hope she’d respond to us with a resounding smile.

This is a picture of a zoom session (I have edited Pauline into the corner of the face chat!)

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