Sounding. Listening. Connecting. Dreaming.

I am an unabashed animist. I believe that everything is infused with what, for want of better word, might be called spirit. There is intelligence at the heart of all matter. Human intelligence is just one peculiar manifestation of this larger ground of being. Other manifestations are radically different, incomprehensible to conventional human sensibilities. Yet all things give voice to the underlying cohering essence, the spirit swirling through cells, molecules, atoms, quarks and superstrings. If we listen carefully we can resonate along with these primary vibrations and receive information, knowledge, altered understanding.

This has been the thrust of the teaching by the Singing Masks that I have been making and employing in ceremonial/performances over the past thirty-five years. Their voices and iconographic presences have been continual reminders of connection with that animistic sense of spirit-essence in rivers, rocks, sky, trees, as well as among all things animate. They have become guides in all my work into shifting perspectives, into experiencing everything as holy (William Blake), into mythic and oneiric reality. This same sensibility has also come to inform my approach to making automata, sculptural instruments and a variety of multimedia creations. The ceremonial/performance pieces inspired by the Singing Masks are not entertainments in a traditional sense. They are not music, theater or dance meant to tell a story or lead one along a preconceived path. They are more often invitations to dive into ineffable richness and chaos even, to discover and explore.

Whenever possible I like to make use of found objects as well as inexpensive materials, including electronics. I have also sometimes incorporated state-of-the-art computer technology to loop and pitch-shift the voices of the masks in real-time. This can be heard in recordings of some performances. I do not hide the technology. Nor do I make much effort to gloss over the inevitable awkward gestures needed to control the devices in my near-blind masked condition. I have an interest in the convergence of the primal and the present, the sacred and the mundane. In the Dream Time presence of the masks, automata, sculptural instruments and multimedia, even the most trivial occurrence may be recognized as having its own kind of perfection and beauty.

Dreaming. Connecting. Listening. Sounding.

Norman Lowrey
October, 2016
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