here's an understatement: music can lead you to interesting places, people, and experiences. that's the only real reason to immerse yourself in it.
i was approached by artist anisa ashkar to create a sound installation for her upcoming exhibition at the museum of islamic and near eastern cultures.
the museum inhabits a mosque which is around 100 years old. it's situated in the old city of be'er sheva in the negev desert region. its a contested site for obvious reasons. unfortunately, dialogue around the building's identity seems to have become dormant.
with regards to acoustics, mosque architecture varies greatly. some mosques took into consideration acoustic elements and were planned with great care to optimize the travel of sound during prayer time and for sermons. with others, almost no priority was given to acoustics, resulting in poor sound performance.
unfortunately, this mosque was of the latter type. even at speech level, the space creates a cloud around any sound put into it. when trying to explain this to someone, i used the word "mud" to describe the effect, and that seemed to be best understood. the problem results from the position and shape of the dome.
it's a beautiful building, but as a sound designer, this makes it extremely difficult to fill the space sonically since any sound is stripped of its nuance and becomes a blurry muffled mess.
with no hope for acoustic treatment, i chose to go with a fairly humble setup of 4 small speakers spread around the space. this also echoed the more subdued feel that i envisioned for the role of the sound.
while crate-digging on the net, i was excited to find 2 very noisy antique recordings made around the time of the mosque's creation. both these pieces have links to the mosque. the first is a taxim hijaz by ahmet djewdet, recorded in instanbul in the 1920s, linking it to its turkish history.
the second is a love song by mohamed effendi el-achek. i thought this piece was particularly poignant since despite its romantic title "bouchraka ya kalbi", it sounded completely religious.
i also composed 3 original tracks, one of which includes a conversation between anisa and her father.
the exhibition is currently open to the public until march 3rd 2018.