Seeing, from hearing

CC-BY-NC: Carlos Queiroz

Antonio Carlos Queiroz Filho is an artist and researcher, teaching at the Federal University of Espírito Santo (Brazil). He also leads RASURAS, on marginalised geographies.

Carlos’ work Ver de ouvir ao caminhar (Seeing from hearing while walking) is shortlisted for the Sound Walk September 2020 Awards. He originally submitted the work to Drifting Bodies / Fluent Spaces, a walking arts conference in Portugal.

Below, Carlos discusses the background to his work.

Ever since I was a child, creative autonomy was something that happened within me, always as a force, driving me to go further. I never was content with simplistic, trivial explanations, nor was it ever my aspiration to do more of the same, whatever the task at hand.

It so happens that, for a financially poorer person, living from art is very difficult in Brazil. For this reason, art has always been my companion in solidarity, and a source of constant curiosity and thought. In a way, art has always been secondary, so to speak; It was there, but it could not come out, because it was not considered by normative structures as something scientific.

I had to deal with this frustration for many years. Now, as a university professor, after a career of almost 12 years, having already facilitated undergraduate, master’s and doctorate students, I decided not to leave art as a secondary subject, anymore. At last, I decided to work on myself as an artist, or rather, as a researcher-artist.

I am particularly interested in the experience of urban living in contemporary society, specifically related to issues of the body, culture and how they interact. It was through this perspective that I felt enticed by the proposal to produce an “audio paper”, for Drifting Bodies / Fluent Spaces, to be heard by people while walking. My work, Seeing from hearing while walking, was born from the challenge of thinking about walking in times when we are not allowed to do so, given the limits imposed by the COVID-19 Pandemic at the time of creating this work (May, June and July 2020).

I wanted to use multidimensional techniques (binaural audio) to promote, through narratives that allusively connect to dream, water, circularity and imagination, reflections that touch on a tangle of challenges:

  • That of taking one of our bodily senses (hearing) as a communicative and experiential cutout (sound landscape and regular landscape as the “window to the soul”) and its unfolding into the spatial dimension of contemporary urban life;
  • Despite this cut-out, to think of our relationship with the world, especially the urban experience, from the whole body, our “primary geography” and, therefore, to think of this body as something beyond the physiological aspects, “a body without organs”, a body that is an intense map;
  • That of thinking of sensitivity and poetics as ways of doing that articulation and to enhance the relationship between critical reflection and the creative process;

The work then assumes, as its main goal, the idea that the experience we have with the world is a whole body. As we walk, we hear, we smell, we stumble, we touch, and we also see. In this sense, the work tries to contribute to the questions raised by an array of knowledge, and the field of art, especially topics that deal with the contemporary experience of living in cities, particularly from the perspective of urban narratives produced by the body’s contours and its aesthetic-political senses.

It was with this understanding that I produced three body-sound-polyphonic experiments which, by the “seeing of hearing” of each person, arouses a “walking” through places and landscapes lined up by the activation of their sensations and memories. To walk, above all, within oneself and make up our experience within the world.

  • The first recording, “Dreamy-City”, was inspired by Andrei Tarkovsky’s cinematic poetics, especially the one present in his film “Stalker”. It is a cyclical and non-linear narrative, which is not intended to be realistic.
    It is not possible to know whether the person is dreaming or not. It goes back on itself, as if it were on location, but there is also a spatiality that is created by imagination; dream, water, rain, cars. And, symbolic elements that carry the narrative of a sense: fluidity, circularity, not realism;
  • Then, “City in difference and repetition”, an allusion to Deleuzian thought. It deals with automatism and the breaking of it, interspersed with silence. Then, a change, which ends with the repetition of the beginning, creating circularity.
    Repetition as discontinuity and difference are suggested in the superposition of voices which almost align themselves. A flow of urban life, spatiality, experience, narrative: all this is circular and not linear. This experiment has fewer layers than the previous one. The sounds are more marked with silence or other sounds, as in a civilized dialogue, and not in a fight. The first carries the sound of a full avenue. This, is a walk in a park;
  • Finally, “With verse: city in text and context” speaks of an experience with language itself. In listening, we can perceive the narration mixed with doodles, rubbers, leaves of notebooks being passed on, a process of building, writing from the experience of a city.
    What happens to us when we expose ourselves to a city conducive of writing? The parts of the text that were used in experiment 3 are about a poetic city experience, where the senses and meanings of what happens to us and by whom, or what these moments share with us, are created in this interaction, in this contact.
    This encounter with the other is the expression of other possible worlds, where one comes into contact with other urban narratives, negotiating meanings, destabilizing certainties, and experiencing the plurality of the city as a possible horizon.

I would like to share my deep joy in being part of the shortlist for the Sound Walk September 2020 Awards. I am honoured by this kind of recognition, as it confirms how worthwhile it was not to give up on art, which for me is work, gesture, sharing and, above all, a way of doing and acting in the world.

Carlos’ overview is the first in a series of the artists shortlisted for the Sound Walk September 2020 Awards talking about their work.

Translated from the Portuguese by Babak Fakhamzadeh and Geert Vermeire.

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