primal alchemy

Where do the sounds of trees that fall with no one there to listen to them, go to?

Are we able to re-interpret the unheard soundscapes of dying nature and its fall down?

Perhaps, these unheard sounds can serve as portals to our inner-journeys.

And what about the sounds f the collapsing worlds outside from ourselves?

Will everything still be out there, in fragile equilibrium after we open our eyes?

Or are we still deaf to the silent collapse of our suspended existence?

Primal alchemy installation shot. Photo: Elir Negri

In Primal alchemy art installation, visitors traverse an abandoned chapel beneath a schematic model of two fallen dead trees.

An array of root-like shadow castings over the chapel and a ground circle made of volcanic rocks, accompany visitors in their journey through an enveloping digital soundscape.

I recorded and stretched sounds digitally to generate a sonic feeling of time suspension.

In addition to these recordings, I generated sine waves and frequencies of Tibetan singing bowls to re-interpret the sound of dying nature.

Abandoned for almost fifteen years, the chapel inside “Villa Secreto”, the former atelier and home to the Mexican painter Cristina Rubalcava, holds this ephemeral art installation in Tepoztlán Mexico.

The rich aural conditions of this semi-dome chapel, offers visitors a unique reverberating atmosphere of architectural sound echoes, creating a unique space for introspection.

Primal alchemy detail of work in progress. Photo: ©Axel Cuevas Santamaría

In this installation, time is suspended in space and dead nature has inverted its gravity.

With the help of two local maestros, the chapel floor was swept from dirt, plants, insects, bat guano and dust accumulated over the years of abandonment.

I peeled off the bark from the fallen trees with a spatule. I cut the remnants of dead branches with a machete, and I found the exact point of equilibrium of the fallen trees suspending them in the ceiling of the chapel.

Primal alchemy detail of work in progress. Photo: ©Axel Cuevas Santamaría

The act of transforming this decadent space into an acoustic experience, offered me an opportunity to re-discover my relation with the ecosystem.

primal alchemy installation detail. Photo: ©Axel Cuevas Santamaría

An open circle made from local volcanic rocks finishes this act of alchemic transformation.

Primal alchemy installation shot. Photo: ©Axel Cuevas Santamaría

By shadowing the visitors as well as the dead tree branches, the dimmed light environment subsumes the spectator within the artwork.

This moment of subtle gravity immersion highlights the unique impact achieved by the presence of balanced trees above us.

primal alchemy installation detail. Photo: ©Axel Cuevas Santamaría

In this way, the work builds upon my interest in designing immersive spaces, as a model capable of assuming a collective phenomenological experience.

Primal alchemy was conceived, produced and created by Axel Cuevas Santamaría during MCCA RAWbox Artist Residency, Spring 2019 in Tepoztlán, Mexico.

The resulting exhibition called Embracing Impermanence, was closely concerned with a reflection linked to philosophical and aesthetic concepts that encompass a state of ruin, deterioration and decadence with re-appropriation, growth, movement, transition, and procedure.

The day of the closing reception, we made a live collaborative performance inside the chapel for the audience that came to visit the exhibition.

Special thanks to: RAWbox Artist Residency Program, Jason, Antonio Outón, Flavia Fantini, Jovanski Castaneda, Luz Paniagua, Elir Negri, Choco, Siaidi, Carlos Rigger, Jacobo, Kin Sánchez, Nuria Fragoso, Moisés Regla, Ennio Almandoz, Gonzalo Rescalvo, Andrés Robert Boulnes, Pueblo Mágico Tepoztlán Mexico and its breath-taking sunsets, amazing weather, food, bird chants, clouds and mountains.

©Axel Cuevas Santamaría 2020

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