Izabela Smelczyńska

Friday, 17 August 23:00 – 23:30 Izabela Smelczyńska | Multimedia

Saturday, 18 August 14:15 Izabela Smelczyńska –The Never-Ending Submersion of Listening in the Body –  installation | Cinema

Iza Smelczyńska, musicologist and improviser, plays experimental electronic music solo and in a duo Euphonia Pseudolarix. She combines the old and the new, analogue with digital. She uses contact microphones, gramophone, tapes and field recordings. She played in “Soundwork”, a theatrical piece directed by W. Blecharz for TR, on Warsaw Autumn, Survival in Wrocław, Musica Privata festival in Łódź, Polyphonia in Zachęta, on Brzask in Królikarnia. She worked with a theatrical group called Teraz Poliż (music to a play “Niech to licho”). She writes about contemporary music – she works with a magazine about contemporary music “Glissando”, “Notes na 6 tygodni”, “Dwutygodnik”. She is permanently associated with “Przekrój”. She is the co-author of a book “Poza rejestrem. Rozmowy o muzyce i prawie autorskim” (“Outside the register. Conversations about music and copyright”).


„Niekończące się zatapianie słuchania w ciele” (“The Never-Ending Submersion of Listening in the Body “)

The installation is a sound comment of reflections about theories weaved by Steiner, Oliveros and Libera.

A human could also have an ear at the bottom. Why isn’t it so? Because on some stage of embryonic development we come under the Earth’s gravity force. Force that makes a stone fall on the ground and that is the reason for the existence of weight. […] Under the Earth’s gravitation, an ear, which manifests an aspiration to transform into a clover, turns into a human’s lower body part. Why doesn’t then the ear itself undergo the same transformation? Why don’t the bones in the ear turn into elegant legs, right and left?

(a fragment of Rudolf Steiner’s lecture on the theory of listening, Stuttgart, 1922 r.)

In the 33rd issue of “Glissando” devoted to corporeality Michał Libera comments Rudolf Steiner’s lecture in nine annotations. He refers to the homology that occurs betweens organs and that allows us to literally “step with your ears and listen with your feet”.

Steiner’s extravagant theory of listening flips the perspective – just as we can talk about an ear becoming legs, we can also talk about legs becoming an ear. Listening perceived as “physical work, friction and pressure of organs on each other, stretching of muscles, cartilages, blood” is the starting point of an installation “The Never-Ending Submersion of Listening in the Body”.

Theories of the Austrian philosopher are aligned with the assumptions of Pauline Oliveros – included a score Sonic Meditations – “Go for a night walk. Go so voicelessly so that your feet become your ears”. Can this practice become a compositional gesture?

To walk voicelessly is to walk carefully, if not just slowly, then surely with concern for whether the descent of feet on the ground is possibly delicate so it does’t cause a clash that could result in making a sound.

(M. Libera)

Therefore to to walk voicelessly is to regain control over gravity, to resists its ubiquity, not so much as to escape it or elude its activity, but literally internalise or embody its force. Only in such case, or only if this initial condition is maintained, we can hope that our feet would start working like ears and not like larynx – would start taking the sound in instead of making it. “Is the submersion of listening in the body natural for us? Is it developed when we are born? Is walking voicelessly possible in this vague preclusion that a period of our life is? Can we hear through our feet?

Do we know how to listen at all?