Sometimes I find that when I create, it is something of a reflection or meditation upon the inconceivable or incomprehensible. The most obvious example of this would be the simple vastness of space and time, and the shortness of our lives within it. As a composer and artist I often get inspiration from astronomy and cosmology, and so while composing this piece I was reading a book called 'Before the Big Bang', which describes a myriad of different theories of how our universe came into existence: bubble universes on a cosmic foam, black hole universes, membrane-universes and even simulated universes, where our existence could be gigantic computations on some incredibly complex computer and all existence just bits of information - immense equations, whether someone is actually calculating them or not.
Though this seemed so unlikely, I found fascinating the idea that some scientist(s) found it plausible to suggest that all existence might have just come into being yesterday, and all our past experience and memories as well as the 14 billion years since the big bang are just a simulation. Whatever the case, the sound textures are one artistic 'simulation' of a snap-shot of the texture of space-time in its infinitely minute component-points, infinite possibilities brewing and ready to bloom into existence, or the infinite layering of emotions and memories in our minds, memories bubbling and rising to the surface of consciousness.
Throughout this piece one also hears the chiming of church bells and the singing of birds interacting with them: these sounds come from the courtyard outside my apartment. Not only is there something about the sound of bells signifying the passage of time, but also the memories that wash through in our consciousness. One aspect about birds and their calling that reminds one of the eternal, that which is not forgotten and is innately part of us in some ancestral memory reinforced through evolution. Against the backdrop of electronic drones, in this piece prepared piano is used, in which many of the tones have a bell-like shimmering tone, in the manner of blooming possibilities, as time's fabric weaves itself.
John Kameel Farah (b. 1973, outside Toronto) is a composer, pianist and visual artist. He studied composition and piano performance at the University of Toronto, where he received the Glenn Gould Composition Award twice during his studies. In 1999 he had private lessons with Terry Riley in California, and 1998 performed the complete solo piano works of Arnold Schoenberg. In 2011 he received the K.M. Hunter Artist Award from the Ontario Arts Foundation.
Farah now focuses primarily on his own creative hybrid of improvisation, composition and electronic music, often drawing inspiration from an interest in astronomy, history and mythology. Using a set up of piano, computer, electronics and synthesizers, his music draws upon contemporary classical music, early music, free improvisation, electro–acoustics, middle-eastern modes, and ambient minimalism, exploring the overlap between the formal and structural with the fantastical and other-worldly. He occasionally incorporates his visual art into his live performances. He performs regularly in his native Toronto, and has toured across the U.K., Europe, USA, Canada, the Middle–East, Brazil, S. Korea and Mexico. In 1999 and 2002, he held masterclasses and performances at the Edward Said National Conservatory in the West Bank. He currently lives and works in Toronto and Berlin.
Nominated by Artmob
Image caption: A close-up of "Spirit of Space and Time", ink drawing by John Kameel Farah
This work is part of ICA SOUNDWORKS - www.ica.org.uk/soundworks