Friday, September 24, 2010
The Dam, The Renaissance, da Vinci and the sound of silence
The Renaissance 1450-1600 introduced the idea of music with parts that are independent of one another--or the concept of polyphony. Music then became more complex, there were more things to hear. This layering of sound needed a kind of visualization for it to be "heard." Or, in other words, sound became multi-sensory.
Da Vinci noted two types of visualization, "Post-imagining--the imagining of things that are past," and "preimagining--the imagining of things that are to be."
In 1931, inside the diversion tunnels at the Hoover Dam, there also was this kind of urgent, consistent, polyphony of sound, with drills running, power shovels removing muck, the jumbo rig hauling men forwards and backwards as generators and compressors edged on. It was sound that could spark memory in a man. For it seems the unfamilar polyphony soon enough became familiar. And with this familiarity so etched in the mind, it would forever after quicken a memory.
In the midst of all this, dam workers were constantly looking into the throat of the tunnel, imagining the end way through. The polyphony of sounds combined with this strain in the direction of their visualization may have helped them push harder at their jobs than they would have ever expected.
Under layers of rock were layers of sound and layers of men in self-possessed silence, listening by way of visualization.