“Take a walk at night. Walk so silently that the bottoms of your feet become ears.” —Pauline Oliveros
It’s late one evening in Kraków, Poland and Brian asks me to join him on an outdoor photography expedition. I agree, which means it is not deep winter, and we arrive by foot at our destination: a specific tree lining the planty, a walking path—once a 13th century moat—circling the city center. His instructions are simple: light. A verb. We crouch to peek below the horizontal leaves, tiny white eggs covering their underbelly.
This was one of many opportunities I have had since our meeting in 2012 to observe Brian observing, from Central European streets to North American deserts. This exhibit is as much a testament to our friendship as it is to the broader theme: moving through the world in a meditative manner. An enduring practice of noticing. Noticing. Our mutual magnetism toward the ordinary-as-extraordinary and my commitment to contemplative practice led me to find resonance between Brian’s work and Pauline Oliveros, the late American composer.
Oliveros pioneered the practice of Deep Listening®, “a way of listening in every possible way to everything possible, to hear no matter what you are doing.” It’s the title of her 1989 album and the focus of a dedicated institute—The Center for Deep Listening—which fosters its creative application. Over the past years, my engagement with Deep Listening®—thanks to Blanc Sceol, Movement Research, Contact Improv New Orleans, School of the Alternative, The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, and in visual and performing arts courses at Tulane as an anthropology PhD student—has reinforced my understanding of listening as a lifestyle, which Brian’s work embodies.
We invite viewers to consider this exhibit as a contemplative exercise. Each section—XIX, XVII, XXV—is inspired by a quote drawn from a section of Oliveros’ 1974 text-based scores, Sonic Meditations. While expanding and admiring each image, we hope you will consider Oliveros’ suggestion that what becomes possible with continuous practice includes “heightened states of awareness or expanded consciousness, changes in physiology and psychology from known and unknown tensions and relaxations, which gradually become permanent.” We hope this homage to her legacy through Brian’s work will lead viewers to a “tuning of mind and body.”
Curator: Dara Bram Photographer: Brian Ground This is our second collaboration, after Mind Maps: Curated Journals 2004-2018. Thanks to our loved ones and Tulane for this opportunity.
Pauline Oliveros’ work is available in the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, including scores and recordings at the Music & Media Center.