♫♪  Sam Miers - don’t look at me that much

Sam Miers sends me his new work, don’t look at me that much, a diaristic type of documentary that weaves an audio-visual tapestry of China’s Yunnan Provence. Miers categorizes this work as an “emotional geography” and through this lens it makes sense to me that he is predominantly filming various instances of music and sound.

In his In Search of a Concrete Music Pierre Schaeffer writes, “Sometimes when I write I am envious of more intense modes of expression. Writing is always making explicit at the expense of other things. Mystery is sacrificed, and consequently truth and everything. At these moments I am overwhelmed by a longing for music that, as Roger Ducasse says, “he likes because it does not mean anything.” [Trans. Christine North and John Dack]

But at the same time what it means is was is felt. I think of the way that music and sound can so directly influence and inform the shifting terrain of our moods, our understanding of those moods and, by extension, ourselves, our perspectives, and, in a bit less lofty of a way, our experience of something new, like a person or a place.

Music comes from all over in the film—from instrument tuners, radios, boomboxes in plazas, street musicians, DJ booths, an outdoor speaker system playing smooth jazz, and children blowing into toy trumpets, to name a few. This world is suffused in rhythms and we are predominantly hearing different forms of public musics. There are almost no words spoken other than the indiscernible jabber of crowds, of which there are many, in plazas, at festivals.

I realize that so many of these instances of public music are tied to group dance, whether this is more curated, as in a public performance, or playful, as in a group of what I imagine are friends or strangers getting together to move in messes and rows and circles. We even see a line of what I think are store employees performing a choreographed dance in their uniforms, with no explanation.

There are also many other sounds not necessarily musical (but at the same time, yes), like a ringing bell, a boy whacking a stick into standing water, or some people whipping tops. I’m gravitating towards the form of the list because the film itself might be structured like one, with some lines longer or shorter than others. Maybe more than a list it’s lineated, like a poem, a long one, a narrative one, a touch of an epic one.

Recorded in 2016 and completed last year, the film will be released by Australian multi-media collection Club Sync later this year. Watch an exclusive stream above, close your eyes, open your eyes.

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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