Spiritczualic Enhancement Center -- a project which Norman Records deemed “reminiscent of Miles Davis at his most abstract” -- is a transnational project focused on the temporary transformation of spaces. Formed in Jerusalem, it now operates across the borders of nation, genre, medium and belief. Aiming to accelerate experimental cultural activism, Spiritczualic has collected collaborators from a wide range of backgrounds and origins (i.e Iran, Israel, Germany, USA, Russia, Japan, Czech Republic, Philippines, Romania, Montenegro, Macedonia, Turkey, Denmark, England and Moldova), fusing more than 50 musicians and visual artists over the last three years. The project is a rare communion of participants that are connected at heart, but who meet solely on rare occasions such as the residency hereby proposed -- an issue becoming all the more critical since Covid-19.
By repurposing industrial spaces into sanctuaries for ritual improvisation, Spiritczualic aspires to generate meaningful site-specific performances, installations and documentations, which reflect on the tension between the sacred and profane in the contemporary post-industrial world.
The project was originally a squatted “Enhancement Center'' located in an ancient Ottoman dome, adjacent to Hamiffal ("The Factory"). The latter is an art community and collective platform which has been repurposing an abandoned 19th century building near the Old City of Jerusalem. Founded on Christmas Day 2017, while Nicolas Sheikholeslami was attending an artistic residency at Hamiffal, the project carries a distinct momentum -- as it has already released three albums, attended renowned festivals and conducted a month-long residency.
After departing from its initial space, Spiritczualic evolved into a travelling nexus of artistic activity, gathering for site-specific recording sessions in unique locations with distinct sonic properties. The project’s second major residency took place at Studio CityGate in Anderlecht, Brussels. As the largest urban developmental cultural hub in Belgium, Studio CityGate provided a 2500m2 warehouse with astonishing reverberation. This enormous pitch-dark chamber was converted into an “echo temple”, an acoustic-atelier in which Spiritczualic conducted a daily ritual of sound studies, culminating in a weekend of non-stop live performances and 14 days of recorded material (to be released in a 4-hour box set).
Complementing the sound were various forms of visual installations: (1) Dima Rabik’s live drawing and analog light projections created by handmade illustrations on glass shards found on-site; (2) Ventral is Golden’s large-scale collage paste-ups covering entire walls. An article featuring this residency was published on Visual Melt.
PROJECT GOAL & OBJECTIVES
Despite having been conducted with minimal funding, Spiritczualic’s aforementioned residency in Brussels was felt as a major success. Testimony to this is the quality and abundance of recorded material, as well as the praise received for the installations and the “non-stop” public performance - which took place for 24 hours. The hosting organization (Studio CityGate) and all of the local people involved were strongly affected by the unique energy of the residency -- it left a substantial mark and remained “the talk of the town'' months later. For Spiritczualic, the residency was a very formative experience. In retrospect, it is clear that it played a pivotal role in forming the sound of the project and its methodological study of resonance-improvisation.
The key goal is therefore to expand upon and increase the success of Spiritczualic’s residency concept, as it was initially developed in Studio City Gate. With proper funding and support for the various essential aspects, the artists will be able to focus on the project at hand.
(1) To present an open-door exploration of the empowering effects of resonance-improvisation within vast industrial spaces.
(2) To identify, study and internalize the unique resonant properties of the residency space at Kraftwerk Bille.
(3) To achieve a highly resonant-state involving all the musicians, their instruments and the space -- one which will be immediately felt by all the participants, as well as by the audience and the remote-audience online.
(4) To develop our daily ritual as a crossover between sonic experimentation and a “sacred” experience in which the collective itself achieves a “vibration”, felt as a coherent group-state, which further responds to the space as its direct resonant environment.
(5) To create a multi-camera live streaming broadcast of the activities in the residency space - and to produce high quality documentations (recordings, pictures & video).
(6) To develop novel forms of live projection and real-time auditory modulation using Touch Designer.
Hoping to consecrate a temporary sanctuary for achieving resonant states of group-consciousness, Spiritczualic will convert Kraftwerk Bille into a real-time study of the sensory mechanics working within our collective heritage of contemplative and religious spaces.
The transformation of abandoned industrial spaces into synesthetic reverberation chambers is a practice which reflects on the tension between the sacred and the profane in a desacralized world. Advancements in the archeology of sound have revealed the centrality of resonance as the key purpose of “holy” spaces from Paleolithic caves to Medieval churches. Since the dawn of time, meaning has been produced in ritualised sonic experiences. The collective produces itself in the unbound togetherness of sound. Up until recently, humanity was generating this power in chapels and cathedrals, now viewed as gigantic echo chambers acoustically designed to amplify the “divine”.
And yet, today we seemingly have no access to resonant chambers like the caves of the Stone Age. Our buildings remain as enormous as the Medieval cathedrals and the monuments of antiquity, but they have not been built with collective experiences in mind.
Psychology suggests “deep listening” as a concept for tracking religious proclivity. The ability to become intentionally absorbed in the sound resonating within a space presents a scaffold for recreating a primitive and naturalistic religious state. Repurposed industrial sites such as power-plants present an opportunity to explore “deep listening” as a contemporary gateway to this prehistoric sensitivity, a form of group meaning-making which can resonate strongly not only with the physical visitors or attendees of the installation/performance - but also that can be immaterially transferred to viewers and listeners via live broadcasts to the cyber sphere.
In our highly networked information society, the key energy generated and transferred between the nodes of production is no longer physical. Instead, it is rather mental or spiritual energy, in the form of collective meanings, which form and dictate the overbearing power structures. Thus, conducting Spiritczualic activity within a repurposed power-plant becomes uniquely symbolic for this major transformative potential. The critical role of the “powerful” and “sacred” must now be explored in a secularized “post-truth” world, whereby we’ve regained the responsibility to consciously experience our collective psychological and spiritual lives.
ARCHAEOACOUSTICS IN THE ANCIENT WORLD
The Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, discovered in Malta in 1902, dates back to around 3000 BC.
Writing for the National Geographic Magazine, William Arthur Griffiths pointed out that any word spoken in ‘the Oracle Room’ of the Hypogeum was magnified a hundred-fold and audible throughout the entire underground structure, producing a double resonance frequency between 70Hz and 114Hz. Research suggested these frequency ranges stimulated hypnologic states that increase right hemisphere brain activity.
Built in County Meath, Ireland, the neolithic monument of Newgrange was founded in 3200BC. According to local mythology, the spirit folk of the Tuatha de Danaan (children of the goddess Dana) were said to have overseen the construction of this ritual structure, that is built in alignment with the sun rise in the winter solstice.
Archaeoacoustic findings suggested that the structure has a sound signature of around 110 Hz, it's interior being completely sound proof, and it's entrance having a sinusoidal wave pattern akin to a giant wind instrument.
The origins of the Chichen-Itza pyramid (on the Yucatan Peninsula) remain uncertain, but settlements were thought to have been established by 200AD.
It is said that footsteps on the outdoor staircase of the Temple of Kukulcán, echoes the chirping of the Quetzal bird from where the temple takes its name.
Echoes were considered the voices from the spirit world, and the glyph for this pyramid signifies the bird in human form. This acoustic hypothesis suggests that the Mayans were perhaps the first peoples to encode a specific sound into stone.
RESIDENCY COMPONENTS & NECESSARY ACTIONS
Sonic surveying of the space’s resonance properties is built upon the pioneering work in archaeoacoustics and sound anthropology conducted by researchers such as Professor Iegor Reznikoff. The latter has studied prehistoric caves, successfully demonstrating that Paleolithic cave paintings and stone markings are positioned precisely at the points of maximal acoustic resonance within the chambers. People of the Stone Age did not have access to sophisticated tools - instead, they intuitively used their own voices and ears. Professor Reznikoff has similarly conducted much of his acoustic study vocally and aurally - by singing and listening to the quality of echo returned.
Thus, our first step is also to explore the space using the natural tools at our disposal: the acoustic and electronic instruments on which we happen to create our music. We conduct an auditory survey of the proposed residency space - searching for the most acoustically satisfying and maximally resonant position for each and every amplifier, drum-set component, speaker and instrument.
Period A -
Preparation & Opendoor Experimentation Period - 6 days
Preparation period -- during which the resonant properties are being studied and internalized.
Building upon the group rhythm we achieved during the Brussels residency - we will create an organic daily ritual of sonic meditation, aiming to “vibrate” as a group with the space itself.
We create a comfortable environment for visitors, positioning chairs, couches & beds for maximal sonic exposure.
For three hours a day, from 18 pm to 21 pm, the doors are open to small groups of visitors (according to Covid-19 guidelines).
The musicians develop a site-specific sound and method of playing.
The artists develop site-specific methods for modulation of visual projections by real-time sound input.
Period B -
Continuous Performance & Online Broadcast - 3 days
Catharsis arrives in the form of a 3 day public performance and non-stop installation environment.
Continuously streamed via an array of cameras presenting all the musicians & artists, as well as interweaving the live projections being created and morphed in the room in real-time
This public period will take place according to Covid-19 guidelines. Should it be impossible to allow large groups into the space, we will accordingly split them into capsules etc.
Since the project culminates in a continuous multi-camera online broadcast - it can also take place without visitors from the public.
Culmination of the Residency at Studio CityGate
Continuous Performance & Installation (Period B)
Preparation & Opendoor Experimentation
Period A at Studio CityGate