12 January 2009

A Quiet Reverie

Mark Peter Wright is a sound artist based in London. He has just graduated from the MA Sound Art at London College of Communication (LCC). His most recent work is titled A Quiet Reverie and was exhibited at the MA Sound Art show at IMT Gallery in London from November 27-30, 2008.

I was a fan of Mark's work in collaboration with artist Helena Hunter for her work, Tracing Shadows, in which he created haunting, ghostly, arching sound-scapes to complement her beautiful performance piece. I went to the MA Sound Art opening because I really wanted to experience Mark's solo work and was intrigued by his images, which appeared on the invitation.

IMT Gallery is rather small and was really crowded. Considering the nature of the exhibition this was not the ideal environment. Nevertheless, the mood was cheery on this crisp late-autumn evening and people were patient when waiting to hear/view/experience works. I explored the other artists' works and mostly liked what I saw and heard, despite the experiences often being shared ones when they should really have been solitary.

Mark's piece is necessarily private, however, and I was lucky to get a chance to experience it. One sits at a desk and wears headphones through which his work plays. Whilst listening one can view his book of photographs and essays, which depict visually and textually this sonic experience. The work focuses on a series of disused abbeys in the north of England, which are the sites of all the sound-recordings and photography in the work. According to the website, a-quiet-reverie.blogspot.com, "the sound work will explore ritual, solitude, silence, landscape and architecture."

For me it did all this and more. Somehow I was transported to this eerie world of empty monasteries, of endless fields, of whistling trees and swaying leaves. The cheery warm light in the gallery was transformed to the melancholy dusk of mortality, apparent in images of abandoned churches, silent waters and flocks of birds. A sense of aching beauty, of silence, despite sound, is felt.

Whilst listening, I wrote in my journal this particularly apt phrase from the book: "Silence, like nature, suggests an inner journey, a contemplation for mind, body and spirit. It also suggests a deep rooted fear and anxiety of one's own mortality." - Mark Peter Wright

This work is one of the best things I've experienced in a long time. The private, intimate experience of being alone with the sounds, of seeing the images and of reading the words, feels like magical transportation to a world of calm, of beauty, of reflection and of silence.

It is when we can experience sound, that is, be totally aware of its presence - and absence - in our psyche, that we can really begin to formulate and appreciate a personal quiet.

For what is silence if not the epitome of sound?

All images courtesy of the artist. For more information on Mark Peter Wright, visit: myspace.com/handsofsand.


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