Thursday, May 27, 2010

if all rings were grooves...





yesterday i was able to visit my favorite japanese temple/garden - commonly known as ginkakuji temple, and even though i have been there many times over the last 15 years or so, i always manage to see things i'd not noticed before, or even more interestingly, seeing things i had seen before but in a new light.

one such moment occurred near the entrance, where there is a small shrine at the top of a few steps on a very small path of rocks. i'd seen it from the ground, but never knew one could walk up to the shrine itself. the shrine is small and not such a big deal, but turning around to walk back down the few steps, i realized i could see my favorite part of the landscape (a mound of sand known as "kogetsudai" which is evocative of mount fuji) from an entirely different angle and height.

seeing the large sand mound from above, i noticed the gravel around it had been "combed" in concentric circles by some sort of rake, and i began to notice, of course, the resemblance between the circular rakings around the larger mound, and the circular grooves found on the surface of a record.

normally, this kind of visual one to one relationship is where such a thought would end, but in light of the recent advances of technology in relation to "reading" grooves, i began to wonder about it more. it got me thinking about edouard-léon scott de martinville's phonoautograph machine, which made drawings from voices with soot and a stylus; and how a few years ago some scientists were able to "read" the stylus drawings and translate them back into sound.

obviously a path of raked stones would not contain soundwaves or information connected to the vibration of a stylus, nonetheless i wonder what might the sound be like if someone were able to "play" these circular sand lines. in all likelihood, it would sound like a wall of noise in all its splendor; yet i can't help but wonder, if within such a thing, there might be a bit of the essence of the landscape or some audible residue of all that has sounded upon this site...

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Blogger Steven Grimley-Taylor said...

2:37 PM  
Blogger sroden said...

hey steve, thanks for the link, totally fascinating stuff!!!!!

4:25 PM  
Blogger gd said...

saw this in person for the first time last september, really lovely.
i really enjoyed the whole "philosopher's path" section of kyoto...beautiful and peaceful area....

4:20 PM  
Blogger sroden said...

yes, totally love that wander down the path, a total escape. try to do it every time i am there...

7:28 AM  

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