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Heredrum (2014)
Sound intervention in public space
10 or more participants with snare drums
Duration: 30 minutes or more

Sound intervention Heredrum focuses its attention on the imperceptible and hidden rhythms of everyday walking by attentively observing, capturing and performing these rhythms on the spot of their occurrences. A group of drummers with snare drums attached to their waists walks on a populated public square in an urban setting and spreads evenly in a large formation sometime in the afternoon. Each drummer focuses on the steps of a random passer by, hitting the snare drum every time the foot of the observed person touches the ground. When the observed walker has left the square or the steps are out of sight, the drummer pauses for a short time and focuses on another passer by.


Negotiating gravity, steps are continuously forming imperceptible flows of rhythms, their variations echoing a range of individual itineraries, intentions and emotions, as well as spatial and social situations. The way the body moves through space, interacting with architecture and other bodies is echoed in the rhythms and modalities of walking. At the same instance, the way the body moves through and within the space defines how one perceives that space. The step as a contact point between the foot and the ground is thus embodying the relations between the body, a space, the inner mental state and social life, and it is both - a personal, strongly felt yet semi-conscious sensation, and a public manifestation of presence simultaneously.


Immediate percussive accentuations of the perceived steps on the spot of their occurrences result in multitude of audible drum rhythms that are bringing into presence the hidden rhythmical modalities of quotidian walking and enhancing the presence of walkers as moving bodies in affective and evocative manner. At the same time this aural manifestation transforms the ambiance of the space, instantly affecting how one occupies and moves within this charged space as a walking individual. These consciously performed rhythms therefore accentuate and disrupt the way one inhabits public space, creating a moment of intense resonance and friction between the personal sensation of one’s own step and a public manifestation of a walking individual as being a part of a crowd that is constituting social life of a place.


By echoing the steps, the sounding drumbeats act as immediate abstractions of concrete personal walking rhythms, which conversely transform the perception of the act of walking from being solely purposeful and automatic activity enabling a person to overcome distance, into a qualitative and symbolic, perhaps even poetic activity. The intervention is therefore both - an intrusive act of capture and exposure of personal bodily activity, and an emancipatory act of giving voice to the multitude of individual presences in a public space. By creating heightened awareness of being observed and at the same time of being heard, the situation challenges the walkers to actively explore and transform the given way of occupying public space. From being a passive citizen automatically following the culturally prescribed ways of behavior, to becoming an active agent whose articulated presence is having immediate influence and (trans)formative power on social and symbolic place s/he is occupying. Affectively activating place in this way, the aim of the intervention is to experience and investigate this situation, and to furthermore observe how this activation transforms the place and the relations between the self, the public, the experienced and the symbolic.

Heredrum is a part of an ongoing artistic research project Rhythms of Presence.


Tao G. Vrhovec Sambolec

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