Thursday, November 5, 2009

[Yasmin_discussions] introductory thoughts...on the subject

Thinking about Orality in today's world ,Western and Other, and it's role on our thinking pattern when transmitted onto film and new media...Hearing and Seeing, are two disctinct ways of taking in information. We have noticed that our actuall global culture has become a very visual experience in the new media world which has bombarded our community. Posters in the streets, in the subway metros, televisions in every home, internet visuals, working on the computer is a more visual then sonic experience. What is interesting to note is that sonic manifestations are more 'annoying' to people then visual manifestations. For example, sound makers and musicians in Paris are not allowed to make music outside wherever nor whenever they choose to. They must get the permission of the mairie by passing a test and win a badge and play in a restricted area of Paris...each sound has it s block. If they make music on the street or sound art without permission they can politely be asked to st!
op playing by the police with a fine to paye. However agressive images and signs bombard us continuously every day and night without ever be asked to leave nor paye a fine nor have a special place to go. It is everywhere.It is interesting to note that before the printing technologies, our communities were focused on oraly transmitted news and stories. Troubadours were the postmen of the time and communication was a much more personal affair passed on from person to person.Actually it makes sens to note that orality is closer to the 'heart' of humanity then visuality. Jean Louis Alibert notes it well in his book 'Le son de L'image', the mother's abdominal walls are not sound proof at all. About -20 to 25 dB only are blocked by the walls of the mother's womb from the child's hearing abilities. And the child 's oral nerves are the first part of the brain to be myelanated and developped to receive sonic information. The voice and heart beat of our mother are the first sounds a!
nd information we hear and think about. So why is it that or!
ality ha
s slowly dissapeared from western culture and oral memory is no longer 'serious' news.This is what intrigues me, our first developped communication tool is our ears and the sound of our formulated breath. Our thought pattern and memory developped from sonic stimulus, before it was triggered visually.From this I beleive that our brain works differently with sonic stimulation (orality) then with visual stimulation (writing, visual gesture). So I am very curious how this orality developped and is keped in traditional cultures especially in Africa,Asia, South America, central Australia (aboriginies) work and effect the visual outlook of their thinking. I have personnaly been working with film and video for quite some time , and I found that most visualy told stories are coming from a visual westernized opinion and 'outlook'.It is interesting to study the rich rapport existing within orality and it's influence on visual expression. To reclaim it and grow with it, in this way allo!
wing a larger palette of communication to occur in my life, and therefore a broader deeper way to understand and think sensually.
One way I have begun to study and analyse this curious relationship is with my own heritage, the Amazigh, or what the westerners refer to as berbers. In the kabyle villages of Algeria, orality has been a much more important part of historical transmission and communication then writing has. Although the technical tool of writing with Tifinagh letters has always existed since Pharaonic and Hattian times, the Berbers chose to communicate history with orality.Why is that?
For Oraly operating communities, memory is keped alive through different personal voices. The memory grows, mutates, transforms and never dies. Fact is frozen and used as a reference. Orality is alive, changing and is not used as a reference in the west. I'm looking at orality on a sensual level now, and invite you to join into this discussion...How has Orality touched your life personaly? Professionaly?Can we use Orality as a Historical reference? Is writting and photography and film truly the keepers of 'real' history or do they trap history and keep fixed borders?
Madame Barbereux- Parry was a well trained singer with a beautiful tone until she lost her voice. She was not asking these big historical questions however she understood the power and importance of Orality for humanities' well being.
In the early 1890's, she lost her voice and began researching singing techniques which help release the voice to its fullest power. She talks about using the voice as a tool of release and not imprisonment in her book 'Vocal resonance: it s source and command'. And she found a very interesting thought from her personal experience:
"Universal release is universal liberation - the antithesis of which is imprisonment. The universal imprisonment of the human race as we find it today, can be traced to many causes, and is both physical and mental."
"the universal key which will open the door of this mental and physical imprisonement of humanity is found to be vocal expression. When all vocal expression is liberated from its dependence on physical sensation and breath, it is thus connected with the activity of the creative impulse and the finer sensisbilities, and is wholly in the realm of thought and inspiration."
Susan Sontag opinion on visual communication also reflects her thoughts about the universal imrpisonment of the human race in her book 'On Photography':
"Cameras began duplicating the world at that moment when the human landscape started to undergo a vertigionous rate of change: while an untold number of forms of biological and social life are being destroyed in a brief span of time, a device is available to record what is disappearing."
Is it because Written/visual history is a more western way that it is taken more seriously? And all the other cultures that keep so much historical information orally are not taken seriously because they are other or as many have refered to Africa, Asia and South America as 'third world' cultures.
I will leave vietnamese filmmaker's Trinh t. Minh ha's reflections on the subject with you...

"Wether "Third world" sounds negative or positive also depends on who uses it. Coming from you Westerners, the word can hardly mean the same as where it comes from Us members of the Third World. Quite predicatably you/we who condemn it most are both we who buy in and they who deny any participation in the bourgeois mentality of the West.
For it was in the contesxt of such mentality that "third world" stood out as a new semantic find to designate what was known as the "savages" before the Independence. Today, hegemony is much more subtle, much more pernicious than the form of blatant racism once exercised by the colonial west, I always find myself asking in this one dimension society where I should draw the line between tracking down the oppressive mechanisms of the system and aiding their spread. Third world commonly refers to those states in Africa, Asia and Latin America which called these non aligned that is to say affiliated with neither the western capitalist nor the Eastern communist power blocs. Thus if Third world is often rejected for it's judged to be derogative connotations it is not so much because of the hierarchical first, second, third order implied as some invariably repeat but because of the goring threat third world consequently presents to the western bloc the last few decades. "
Hope to hear your opinions on the subject of Orality as an existing form by itself, with new media, outside of the West and it s effects on thinking patterns....and share you personal experience with this...then I will share with you my personal experiences....

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