CSWR SoundEscapes

April 24, 2017
CSWR resident Farah Zahra
CSWR resident Farah Zahra. Photo courtesy of Farah Zahra.

"When I first visited CSWR in April 2015, I was invaded by its peaceful presence. Looking around me to find the source or the hidden traces of this serenity, I thought I was doing the wrong thing—which is looking. I should be hearing, listening. Listening to the water stream of the small fountain in the community garden. I thought that the peacefulness of this place is embodied in its acoustic environment as much as it is embedded in the interior architecture of the building and carried by the traces of the people who lived here before. I compare the sounds that surround us to the underground water stream that we don’t see but that supports all life forms.” said Farah in the opening of her talk on Wednesday evening on April 12th.

For her presentation, Farah prepared a twenty-three minute clip of various sounds, voices and soundscapes of the CSWR. In the past two months, Farah had sound-recorded eighteen hours that weaved together the sonic presences of events, presentations, evening cafes, poetry performances, social gatherings, alongside the surrounding nature soundscape of the center, its visitors and residents. Farah also shared her motivation and aim behind this practice of hearing, listening and recording. “I intent to share the heard as an effort to access the ephemeral quality, the fleeting character of the world around us and the way we experience it,” she said. For her, sound is place in action as it represents the invisible layer that animates and is the sign of liveliness of the CSWR. The clip meant an invitation to reflect on how space generated sounds and how our consciousness of it generates the place. This practice also points to the multiple layers of sonic sensibilities that pluralize the way we experience and engage with the surrounding space and whoever inhabit it.

The clip moved across the CSWR rooms, between the public and the private places, and went from the community garden to an intimate tea gathering. It also heard from a distance and from a proximity in order to defamiliarize our listening habits and heightened our awareness of peaceful acoustic presence of the CSWR.