For the past twenty days, I have kept track of how I feel, and it has made me realise that the elasticity of time and space is defined by moments. Sometimes these moments feel like a thunderous glow overlaid by brief periods drafted in a thick black void. It is a beautiful and intense relationship with the world that, at the same time, is painful and overwhelming. I have also followed my altered states of consciousness. The experiences are eclectic but vivid, including alienation, depression, euphoria, ecstasy, lucid dreaming, deep listening and out-of-body perceptions.
From the intangible resonance of the concrete walls to the light changes as time passes. Birdsong feels like sustained loops. One night before sleeping, I felt a weight on my legs. The next night, I woke up after hearing the stealthy sound of the wind blowing a candle. One afternoon, while I was showering, I felt something (someone) stroking my hair. The rain brings a dissonant orchestra to my patio. Hot oil makes a scorching white noise.
Between 15-20% of the population is genetically predisposed to a high level of sensitivity“, and I am one of them. People with emotional hypersensitivity associate emotions with pain because both are experienced in the same part of the brain. Curiously, “love is pain” was the phrase that I used to end my most recent EMDR session. A statement rooted in my subconscious –that has shaped my interpersonal relationships–, and the product of a childhood framed by a dissociated family environment.
Hypersensitivity, as an attribute, is like a highly developed sixth sense. It is feeling and living everything intensely. It’s incredibly beautiful, yes, but it can deluge you to the point of being immense and overpowering. It is a gift and a punishment. I am learning to tune in to stimuli through mental structures and daily routines to channel it into getting something positive. However, there are days when I prefer to be carried away by the momentary genius. Each pore, nerve and vertebra respond to the maximum of their capacity. You experience hyperactivity and hyperawareness. The physical and emotional impulses weigh tons, and your brain tries to process everything within microsecond intervals.
“Another day, in the rain, we’re waiting for the boat at the lake; from happiness, this time, the same outburst of annihilation sweeps through me. This is how it happens sometimes, misery or joy engulfs me, without any particular tumult ensuing: nor any pathos: I am dissolved, not dismembered; I fall, I flow, I melt. Such thoughts grazed, touched, tested (the way you test the water with your foot) – can recur.” – Roland Barthes, from A Lover’s Discourse.
Meditating and focusing my attention on specific tasks reduce my hyperactivity – writing, taking photos or experimenting with the synthesiser. This is why I use the modular as a therapeutic tool rather than with an artistic purpose per se –following the motto of concrete music: play with the instrument and play the music. Reinvent the definition of musical instrument and its meaning. Drones and sustained sounds in general – regardless of intensity or tone – help my brain remain in a state of moderate awareness. In addition to Éliane Radigue‘s compositions, Beatriz Ferreyra‘s electro-acoustic work also allows me to fulfil this state of comfort –especially when I am immersed in heavies, noise-filled dystopian fantasies.
Beatriz Ferreyra was born in Argentina. In the early 1960s, she joined the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM), “without any qualifications except my ears“. She was the only female composer to work directly with Pierre Schaeffer. During this time, Beatriz composed Mer d’Azov, etude aux itérations (1963), Demeures aquàtiques (1967) and Médisances (1968). Starting in 1970, she developed her career independently conducting an instrumental investigation with Bernard Baschet in Sound Structures (1970), developing works applied to music therapy (1973-1977), and becoming a member of the College of Composers of the Bourges Experimental Music Group (GMEB). She has remained active since her initial experimentations.
Beatriz has described some of her work, as an intention to “illustrate the perpetual attempt of the solid and the fluid to interpenetrate (…) from an experimental approach through the land, the sea and the air: overlapping elements that they fold inward, exploding like tiny particles onto smooth, flat surfaces.” Her references extend from alchemy to Qabalah, making her work fascinating and mesmerising. A continually expanding sound palette has always characterised Beatriz’s music. There is an inherent curiosity in her act of creation, allowing her to understand the field of composition as a fertile and possible space. Ferreyra appreciates music as an organic and ephemeral entity that can be modified thanks to the use of technology.
I guess my hypersensitivity and my predisposition to experience altered states of consciousness can also be understood as a perpetual interpolation of solid and fluid matters. The overspread of elements, impulses and emotions that are unfolding in front of my eyes. It’s a unique quality that enriches my creative process, my environment, and my exchange with the collective consciousness. Everything is deluged by my understanding of my own universe and how to translate these emotions into something beautiful; after years suppressing this side of me.
Life in this temporary vessel, shaped by the lockdown and self-isolation, has confronted me with this hidden power, and the challenge of making something out of it. Pushing my boundaries and my own limitations and asking me to build new patterns that offer a safe space for these brand new, vivid experimentations.
“(…) and since her body is a mental body, it is very easy for her to change her perceptions. Although she wanders through the intermediate state, at any distance, she can see and hear us due to certain clairvoyance since she is able to remember the teaching and to be able to change her thoughts in the blink of an eye. This teaching is very useful. It is like a catapult or the act of placing a giant tree in the water of a river that a hundred men could not handle.” – Bard Thodol.