I had a chance to watch a group of Tibetan Monks making a sand mandala in the Drake University library in Des Moines, IA. This recording was made at 4pm on Friday, September 13th just a couple hours before the mandala would be finished and then ultimately destroyed.
The temporary nature of the work and the soundscape created from the process made for an experience that was quite powerful. It reinforced the importance of appreciating the moment. It drew my attention first through the work itself, then the amount of effort going into it, and finally as I appreciate the sound of the process and the detail of the image being created I am suddenly struck by the brief mortality of the thing itself. The internal reflection that followed feels obvious [insert statement about aging and how it requires some coming to terms with my own mortality].
The temporary and fleeting nature of the work has many connections to sound, performance and the nature of listening. The sound exists over time, and only in time. Unlike the moving image, when you freeze frame on a sound, there’s nothing. Time is required for sound to exist therefore there is no stationary. Everything about sound is fleeting, moving. We have memory. Technologically extrapolate that and we have recording devices. These can recall or replay things that have happened but again, time is required to experience them. In all of this is also why I have no issue with recording and documenting the sounds of the process. As an audio bookmark I find much value in how sounds like this help me recall larger themes and thoughts form the experience in which they are recorded. The recording and the memory exists at these two levels – the actual and the triggered.