Listening Well
JEMILA MACEWAN Listening Well Earthwork
Invisible protector. Transparent image
Listening Well
2019
Earthwork
12" Diameter, 6' Depth




‘Listening Well’ is a contemplative space for listening to what the earth hearing. This is the first of a series of new acoustic earthworks, where the earth is transformed into an ‘ear’ or resonant chamber. In creating this form I researched sacred architecture which is often designed to resonate and carry the human voice into a vaulted roof, and so into the heavens. By inverting this form and vaulting the chamber into the ground, I allow the earth to be a resonant receiver of sound. Depending where one is positioned in relationship to the form, the time of day and even the air temperature different sounds will be amplified or dulled. 

Whilst making this work in a field in Long Island, NY, I became accustomed to the specific acoustic signature of this site, which mixes the sounds of farm animals - roosters, chickens, pigs, cows and a dog, many kinds of insects, small birds, birds of prey, migrating geese and rustling trees along side the sounds of highway traffic, farm equipment (including the excavator I used to dig the ground), trains, voices from a local summer camp, helicopters and other small aircraft. On some evenings there was also the loud deep rumbling of thunder. 

In my attempt to listen well during this work, I have found peace choosing not to engage in selective hearing. By simply allowing myself to hear all the sounds as they overlay in the world around me it brings me into a state of calm awareness. Within that space I hear the spectrum of sounds that are harsh and mundane as they blend into the harmonious sounds that exist within the sacred and the sublime.