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Culture Dose | Slow Art: The Experience of Looking, Sacred Images to James Turrell | The Seeds of Vandana Shiva | Cicada Dream Band

Culture Dose | What to Read, Watch and Listen to Now

Looking vs. seeing, touching vs. sensing, hearing vs. listening. How we define these actions often are the difference between “got it” and a deep understanding.

My experience is what I agree to attend to. Only those items which I notice shape my mind. 

—William James, Principles of Psychology

Read: Slow Art: The Experience of Looking, Sacred Images to James Turrell by Arden Reed

Bill Viola film slow living and deep listening
Still from a video by Bill Viola referenced by Reed

As the world opens up, and travel is full on, museum going (masks recommended but no longer mandatory) again becomes a place to reignite our imaginings IRL. Thus we started thinking about looking, seeing. Can looking at an artwork for more than the requisite 6 – 10 seconds (the time an average viewer does indeed give to a piece) cultivate a different kind of conversation? Can it “behave like a motion picture? Compel rapt attention? Or at the very least “cultivate patience”? This lively ramble through visual culture high and low might just offer a respite from the onslaught of competing visuals we normally see. So give yourself a moment to reframe how you look, how you see.

Watch: The Seeds of Vandana Shiva –When you control seed you control life on Earth

Who is she? What is her mission? How did this woman from an obscure town in India become Monsanto’s worst nightmare: a rebellious rock star in the global debate about who feeds the world?

Among those engaged with organic food and farming, climate change, biodiversity, seed sovereignty, globalization, and social justice, Vandana Shiva is an icon.

But even among those who pride themselves on being well-informed, she’s relatively unknown. Few are aware of how this daughter of a Himalayan forest conservator rose from obscurity to become a world leader of Gandhian stature.

Hers is her remarkable and unlikely story. A girl who trekked from cabin to cabin in the highlands alongside her father. A girl who tended a garden alongside her mother. And a young woman that passionately pursued an education. An education which freed her from the caste/gender constraints of traditional Indian society. And culminated in a degree in Nuclear Physics, and then a Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Quantum Theory.

But those achievements were merely a prelude to her awakening as a fully-committed activist.

Vandana Shiva brought her scientific expertise and Gandhian principles of non-violent resistance to the struggles of poor Indian villagers. Those whose livelihoods were being crushed by corporate capitalism. She has become a formidable opponent to corporations whose drive for privatization and profit are destroying the environment. In India, the fruits of the “Green Revolution” are an epidemic of rural suicides.

In order to see this film, you actually have to set up a community group watch party. So get some folks together and ask to screen. You’ll feel empowered, persuaded, and profoundly affected by the story of the woman known as “the Gandhi of grain”.

Listen: Cicada Dream Band Pauline Oliveros + Timothy Hill + David Rothenburg

Deep listening for slow living with Cicada Dream Band –Pauline Oliveros, David Rothenberg and Timothy Hill

A “deep listen to the sounds which might, just might, open a space of radical (re)imagining. Pauline Oliveros, a luminary of American music, composed pieces calling for “radical attentiveness”.

Defining “Deep as “complex and boundaries, or edges beyond ordinary or habitual understanding” with Listening as

…learning to expand the perception of sounds to include the whole space/time continuum of sound—encountering the vastness and complexities as much as possible. Simultaneously one ought to be able to target a sound or sequence of sounds as a focus within the space/time continuum and to perceive the detail or trajectory of the sound or sequence of sounds. Such focus should always return to, or be within the whole of the space/time continuum.19

So check out her Cicada Dream Band. And we’re cribbing a quick review from a guy you should know about who’s magazine, ATTN:Magazine explores new experimental music and sound art. So a resounding shout out to the multi-talented Jack Chuter.

You have to wander far, far into the reeds to find the Cicada Dream Band. This is either the music of a trio that have spent generous amounts of time in each other’s company – bouncing ideas between them until the original concept is mashed into a bizarre new shape – or the work of three natural born curveballers, whose sparks of innovation come brightly and frequently, in completely unexpected colours. The energy levels are persistently high, twisting between synthesized vocal dissonance, silky clarinet flutters, earthy throat song and the congregative conversations of nature’s most flirtatious and boisterous birds and insects. I’m forever spoilt for choice – what to turn my attention to? The hooting acrobatics of the European blackbird? The glossy marble overtones of Timothy Hill’s singing? Instead of letting my mind ping back and forth as though observing a four-way tennis match, I often flop myself down in amongst the blur, allowing myself to be massaged by the ecstatic, pinball improvisation that shoots across the frame.

They are all impeccable listeners. On “Three Of A Mind”, Oliveros’ v-accordion hangs on single notes like a held breath, or a hand feeling its way through the dark. Hill and Rothenburg respond accordingly, and before long the entire trio is slithering on their stomachs, hands held behind their backs, letting out soft and deliberate notes one after the other. As time slows down for one, the inner clocks of the others adjust accordingly – they are an eco-system within themselves, forever readjusting to retain balance and beneficial co-dependency.

–KL Dunn

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Read: Consumed, Watch: Gunda, Listen: Got Climate Doom? Here’s What You Can Do to Actually Make a Difference

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