Dwelling in the Enfolding

an immersive 360-degree audio visual artwork

by Matthew Burtner and Mona Kasra, 2020

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Dwelling in the Enfolding (2020) is an immersive audio-visual environment of interconnected landscapes that were never inhabited yet are able to inhabit imaginations. These moving landscapes are so vast, so confident, and so subdued, they almost seem stationary and eternal. The surrounding stillness, however, continues evolving in a perpetual act of dwelling devoid of human life, reminding us of an intertwining past, present, and future.

To perceive the landscapes is, therefore, to grasp what is not humanly perceivable. We don’t belong here. Neither our individual nor our collective memories and experiences are ascribed to the tapestry of the space. It thus resists our human comprehension.

Nevertheless, the landscapes dwell within themselves, in a constant state of interanimation and transformation. Water turns to clouds turns to snow turns to ice turns back to water. Layer upon layer, these complex entanglements flow above, beneath, and through the obscure surfaces of the landscapes concurrently, eroding and shaping the land.

Far beyond the limits of our human perception, the landscapes enfold to reveal the hidden, the obscure, the wonderment.

Utilizing 360 spatial sound and video, this interactive virtual reality piece invites viewers to inhabit enfolding landscapes and bridge across seemingly disparate spaces that belong to a unified whole. Viewers can move between the layers of the world, navigating through a liminal map of the terrain. Whether standing on top of a vast ice field or deep in a mysterious ice cave, within each layer, viewers encounter and interact with distinct audio-visual experiences that offer new ways to perceive the interconnecting landscapes. Each encounter is in fact an original one as every viewer’s gaze may shape and initiate unique sound events in the 3D space. While subtly responding to an intimate awareness of the viewer’s presence and co-creating the soundscape with the viewer, the landscape doesn’t impose any singular experience or a particular way of navigating. Instead, it simultaneously proceeds with its own process independent of the viewer, at its own pace.

This piece was made possible through a Faculty Research Grant through the Office of the Provost and Vice Provost of the Arts and a Cornell Summer Arts Fellowship through the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Virginia.

LEAD ARTISTS

Matthew Burtner (www.matthewburtner.com) is an Alaskan-born composer, eco-acoustician and sound artist whose work explores embodiment, ecology, polytemporality and noise.

Mona Kasra (www.monakasra.com) is an Iranian-American new media artist and interdisciplinary scholar whose work explores, reflects on, and experiments with the affordances of media for artistic and performative practices.