Reflections on one week of Jacob’s Ladder : An Advent Calendar in Sound

As some of you know I’ve been putting up An Advent Calendar in Sound up at Holy Trinity Beckenham. So here are a few thoughts on the process.

Putting it up and taking it down each day is tough. Most folks wonder why I do that. Well for one the space which the installation sits in is heavily used for other activities. These include a day time nursery, Pilates, Scouts, meal for the homeless, various exercise groups etc. So I’m sneaking in between these activities and setting up. After one activity the space waits for the next one. It’s during that time that I go in and place the installation. So there seems to be a specific resonance of waiting in which the place itself waits.

Plus the work has to do with the particulars of each day. So each day brings its own challenges and work. Putting it up each day and taking it down makes the work itself particular to each day as the whole work stands in marginally different points each day and the speakers are moving all over the wire they hang off.

Does the installation need to be in that space since it creates so much more work? Initially the idea was that installation could be in the actual worship area rather than the church hall. However the whole work is about ordinary and everyday waiting and it just fits better as a work in a space used for everyday activity rather than a haloed one.

From the videos we hear the sounds of people in the hall and this sometimes completely overpowers the sounds from the speakers. However when people are quiet and listen the speakers seem to fill the room. This is the strange nature of sound and listening. From a recording it’s harder to distinguish the sound from the work and the sound from the hall. But if you’re there you can.

It takes a lot of support to get a work like this started and going. My wife’s worked very hard in helping with the actual work and taking up the slack of my not being at home. The children have had countless trips to space and they have done their time too. The encouragement from the church has been immense. There are a few who keep me going by their own interest in the work and in us as a family and persons.

The work seems to have on ocassion made me more patient. Well after being day in day out with the work it has sink in some way doesn’t it?

I’m puzzled about the Christian language around the work or lack of it. I am a Christian and there’s no denying that. And the work actually came out of reflecting theologically around Advent, the spirituality of sound, and an engagement with the early chapters of the gospel of John. Yet other than the initial reasoning, in the reflections, theological language has seemed inappropriate or forced. This is the interesting challenge of belief as a whole. How does the language of the faith, work seamlessly with the whole of our lives?

The waiting continues…

 

 

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