Listening Well
JEMILA MACEWAN Listening Well Earthwork
Listening Well
2019
Earthwork
12" Diameter, 6' Depth


‘Listening Well’ is a contemplative space for listening to what the earth hearing. It is the first in a series of new acoustic earthworks where the earth is transformed into an ‘ear’ or resonant chamber. In creating this form, I studied sacred architecture which is often designed to resonate and carry the human voice into a vaulted roof, and so into the heavens. By inverting this form and vaulting the chamber into the ground, I allow the earth to be a resonant receiver of sound. Depending where one is positioned in relationship to the form, the time of day and even the air temperature, different sounds are amplified or dulled. 

Whilst making this work in a field in Long Island, NY, I became accustomed to the specific acoustic signature of the site: farm animals
roosters, chickens, pigs, cows and a dog many kinds of insects, small birds, birds of prey, migrating geese and rustling trees alongside the sounds of highway traffic, farm equipment (including the excavator I used to dig the ground), trains, voices from a local summer camp, helicopters and other small aircraft. There was occasionally the deep rumbling of thunder.

In my attempt to listen well during the creation of this work, I have found peace choosing not to engage in selective hearing. By simply allowing myself to hear all sounds as they overlay in the world around me, I have come into a state of calm awareness. I hear the spectrum of sounds that are harsh and mundane, blending into a harmonious resonance that exists within the sacred and the sublime.