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Fascinating SMRN Meeting of September 2020

SMRN held another exciting and fascinating meeting on September 30 with members that included: Jessika Kenney, Sheila Petty, Lynn Marie Kirby, Carol Bier, Katya Nosyreva, Çigdem Borucu, Nina Czegledy, Gareth Davies, Siying Duan, Tarek El-Ariss, Azadeh Emadi, Jan Hendrickse, Farshid Kazemi, Narjis Mirza, Juan Castrillón, and Radek Przedpełski.

Our members Jan Hendrickse and Radek Przedpełski presented their works in progress. Jan is a sound artist, composer and a player of the Turkish ney (reed-flue). His presentation was based on a collaborative work called Hidden Architectures with the choreographer Saffy Setohy. This work was partly inspired by the work of Tim Ingold, who in his book The Life of Lines states: “To live, every being must put out a line, and in life these lines tangle with one another.” In his practice of the ney, Jan has become interested in contemplating the deeper aspects of breath and breathing. The idea of the breath as the intermediary between the body and the environment. The ontological blurring of the subject and objective world through breath – the circularity of breathing in and out, where the inside and outside become entangled in one continuous whole. He juxtaposed the mechanical aspect of breathing in the western musical tradition, versus the Eastern tradition in which breath and breathing are not simply techniques but are imbued with deep philosophical and symbolic significance. For example, Jan referred to the Persian philosopher Mulla Sadra’s concept of the Nafas al-Rahman or Breath of the All-Merciful, which was also developed by earlier figures such as the Andalusian Sufi mystic Ibn al-‘Arabi, in which the creation of the world is actualized through the breath of the All-Merciful. He also referred to the Japanese bamboo flute Shakuhachi played by Zen monks, where the instrument is similarly seen as both a spiritual and musical instrument. Finally, in his work Jan is interested in new ways of approaching musical composition in which the distinction between the composer and performer is destabilized through an echo-systemic approach.

Radek presented his work in progress on ‘Healing Media Technologies’ in which he provided a small selection of concepts that can be useful for theorizing healing media. As a case study, Radek referred to the work of the Polish-Jewish-Ouzbek musician Raphael Rogiński and his take on Hasidic healing nigunim. Radek provided the background for the development of the Jewish mystical tradition of Hasidism, and its founder Ba’al Sham Tov. In the Hasidic tradition nigunim is a simple vocal melody and is often part of their devotional practice. Radek drew a fascinating media genealogy of the nigunim that related to various musical traditions, such as doina in the Romanian tradition, with further roots in Arabo-Persian makam musical repertories. Radek presented three musical material as examples of the transformation of the nigunim into musical pieces by Raphael Rogiński’s 2020 three-part pandemic project Dobroczynne Niguny (Healing Nigunim) and also briefly referred to the artist’s past project ‘Shofar’ from a 2007 composition as a comparison. Radek also briefly referred to the theoretical material that he will be deploying to analyze these musical works, such as the concept of cosmotechnics by Yuk Hui, Bernard Stiegler’s general organology, and Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy.

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