Can You Hear the Light?

Combining short video clips of daily actions in private and public living environments, Can you Hear the Light? dramatizes familiar sounds and sights with unfamiliar juxtapositions. While the image focuses on a particular light condition of a space, the unseen sound of the same environment compels viewers to reinterpret the relation of visual and aural phenomena. Starting from day and passing to night, the short scenes play out in monochrome: black and white in the inner spaces; and earthy colors of mud in the outer spaces.

This Entr’acte is inspired by study of the Orghast performance, an experimental play with a blend of languages, created by Peter Brook and Ted Hughes, and performed in 1971 amid the ancient ruins of Persepolis in Iran. By incorporating myths and ceremonial sounds from different cultures, the performance enacted a series of scenarios by improvisatory movements and utterances of actors, and by the light of Promethean fire set against the ruins at dusk. The monochromatic soundscapes of the Entr’Acte aim to emulate the evocative half-lit atmosphere of the setting of Orghast.

The episodes of Can you Hear the Light? were filmed in the author’s hometown of Yazd, a historical city in central Iran, with similarities to Persepolis. The scenes of light on muddy walls capture the rough textures and extreme contrasts within the spaces. Images of candlelight accompanied by readings of Avesta, an ancient ceremonial language and one of the many languages used in Orghast, refers to both the play and the Zoroastrian history of Yazd. The whispering of women, the echo of a motorbike passing through an empty narrow alley, and other familiar sounds of daily life, encourage spectators to be more attuned to common sounds within their own environments. Through hearing the light, the author discovered she practically lives in Orghast – an experience that may be mutual for all of us.

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Bio of artist:

Zahra Sharifi is completing her Master’s of Architecture at the University of Manitoba. She holds a prior degree in architecture from the University of Yazd in Iran. Her work is mostly focused on cultural heritage and social transactions between traditional and modern architecture. Zahra was born in the populated city of Tehran in 1995 and grew up in the rich, historical city of Yazd. The contrast of her environmental background encouraged her to dig deeper into the meanings behind traditional Persian architecture and how modern architecture often lacks certain elements that were considered in the past. Reviving and rehabilitating these elements is the main aim of her research.

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Theatres of Architectural Imagination Frascari Symposium V