DIY: 2013 – Ansuman Biswas ‘Farplayer’



Ansuman Biswas

with The Works Performing Arts Cornwall, University College Falmouth and Sound & Music
An exploration of sound in space, of chains, links and breaks, of transmission and reception, of listening and making.

Project summary:
How far can a signal be sent? What is the greatest distance from which any particular sound can be heard and how much information can it convey? How does distance and meaning vary according to the sounding object, the sensitivity of the listener, the landscape, the ambient noise, the time of day, temperature, humidity, wind direction, etc.

During this weekend we will experiment with various parameters in the sending and receiving of signals. We will draw a line of sound, making a chain whose ends might join to form a loop.
A chain of people passing a sound along might send a signal all the way around the world if the line were long enough. If it were a spoken count that was passed on what number would arrive back at the beginning? Could a sound circumnavigate the globe? Could it make a ring, like a continuous peal of bells? Or like a dawn chorus sweeping westwards with the constantly creeping dawn, across the spinning earth for millions of years, from the first bird to the last?

An observer at any point in this vast music would hear only a tiny part of the whole, a single peak in the travelling wave, with distant echoes on either side. Individual sound makers would become little cells unto themselves, but connected to all the others. Each signaling station would become a zone of quietness and intent listening, punctuated at intervals by a single sound.

This weekend workshop will include deep listening exercises and extended periods of silence outdoors, whatever the weather. It could be of interest to existing groups from anywhere – such as choirs, brass bands, pipe bands, fishing fleets, sea kayakers or hikers – or to local people who want to understand familiar geography in a new way. No musical experience is necessary, but you will need a sound maker – whether whistle, bell, siren, air horn, drum, or simply your own voice. We might use anything from whispers across a room to pyrotechnics on seaborne ships.


As a group we will discuss the ethics of noise and the conceptual ground of sound and space. We will then practice active listening, seeking out particular places and times of day to listen to. We will consider the biological evolution of sound, the social uses of songlines, and new strategies for using sound to map space. We will explore the topology of a chosen site to determine various routes through it. A dead straight line? A series of expanding circles? Passing through particular landmarks? Using particular instruments? Perhaps incorporating compositional rules or agreed signals?

Dates, times, location(s):
Friday 2 to Sunday 4 August.
 Times tbc. Cornwall (exact location tbc)

Application procedure:
Participants will pay for their own travel and a contribution towards board and lodging. There will also be space for locals who would like to participate in the day’s activities but return to their own homes in the evening. Participants with seaworthy vessels of any kind would be very welcome. Likewise those with their own inland transport, to facilitate the creation of lines traversing both land and sea.
To participate in this event please write to [email protected] (cc’d to [email protected]) with some details about yourself and why you are interested by Sunday 9th June.

The artist:
Ansuman Biswas works across many different disciplines and genres but all his work is grounded in the practices of vipassana meditation and deep listening. The notion of passing sounds over long distances is informed by experiments he began in the late eighties and early nineties with the Bow Gamelan Ensemble.

This particular project was first inspired by Jem Finer’s Longplayer, a thousand-year-long musical composition. Longplayer has at its core the idea of passing something on. It gives expression to the desire for far-reaching influence, along with a willingness to relinquish control. Longplayer is made as robustly as possible but open to the creative potential of breakdown and misunderstanding, like a game of Chinese whispers. Farplayer explores the spanning of a vast space just as Longplayer spans time. Here space spreads out as time does, both centred in personal bodily experience.

Contact information:
Ansuman Biswas on [email protected]

This DIY project is supported by The Works Performing Arts Cornwall, University College Falmouth and Sound & Music

Part of DIY: 2013

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