Astral Totems

Audio file crafted for the immersive installation, an Experimental Space for Reconnection with the Natural World, v1.

Experienced as a prophetic dream in the winter of 2011, I translated the journaled memories to a poem in October 2013. The literary structure took the form of an ekphrastic poem, in response to Kiki Petrosino’s “eater” poems from the third section of her book, Hymn for the Black Terrific. The sound file was completed in the spring of 2014.

The event, an Experimental Space for Reconnection with the Natural World, v1, began at a nearby café where guest participants signed up for time slots. From here they donned headphones and were led on a five-minute soundwalk to the site of the installation. The recording, Astral Totems, was designed to transition guests from the ordinary reality of collective consciousness, to the non-ordinary reality of a shared experience within the installation. The guide for the soundwalk communicated with gestures, not words, encouraging guests to do the same.

When guests reached the front door of the house, the guide motioned for them to remove their headphones. The same ambient sounds from the end of the Astral Totems recording was audible on the front porch, via a hidden speaker, thereby maintaining the sonic bubble of transition to non-ordinary reality.

Once inside the house, guests were free to explore. From the front entrance, they had a sightline through the entire first floor of the installation. Most audible was the audio file, The Machinery Generating Reality, although sonic frequencies throughout other parts of the house could be heard, creating a multi-layered soundscape. Dried oak leaves (collected the previous autumn from the guardian street trees) and sand covered the floor, crunching and texturing footsteps as guests moved forward.

Seed Pod Pluck strung along the stairwell invited guests to pull and release strands of taut twine as they climbed the steps, causing the seed pods to rustle-rattle. These were the same seed pods used to create the ambient crepitation in Astral Totems.

Astral Totems

  • 2014 • spring
  • audio collage
  • Acknowledgements

    special thanks to Abby Aresty