“Wayda” --- 8-Channel Sound Installation by Gary Kendall
Among the Andean people of South America “Wayda” is the name of the spirit of wind and air. Both the name and the focus of the piece arrived at the very end of the creative process. In retrospect, of course, it looks like everything about the piece had to do with wind and air, but that was only a result of intuition moment to moment.
In our culture we still see the remnants of knowledge of the sacred elemental energies. We still talk about the “four elements” although often as an archetype of old archaic ideas which modern science has corrected. I can recall the exact moment at which I realized that there was something else to it. I once participated in an all night ceremony with one of my Andean teachers. It was an initiation ceremony for three of us who had worked with him before. During the ceremony my teacher prepared three offerings made of leaves and flowers. There was an offering for each of us and each offering was devoted to a different elemental spirit. Mine was for air. Not long after sunrise, we were each given the offering and separate instructions on how we were to present them to the elemental spirits. I think that all three of us believed that these offerings were a kind of traditional protocol that was part of the ceremony. My instructions were to find a particular place in the forest where I should place the offering in the crack between two branches of a tree. With that information I went off in search of the right location. I debated this for quite some time. When I had made my final decision, I very carefully reached up and placed the offering in the tree. At the moment in which it was exactly placed, the entire space of the forest seemed to collapse into that one offering. I fell backwards on the ground. When I recovered my mind from the shock of what had just happened, the forest seemed restored. I pieced together that it was in fact the air of the forest that had collapsed on the offering---no, not the air itself but a part of the air that I had never experienced separately before. The energetic spirit of the air had taken the energy of the offering. There was a quality to the energy of the air that was totally distinctive and compelling. I got up and walked back to where my teacher was waiting. I related my experience to him. He listened in the story for the signs. I don’t know what he actually thought, because we simply went on with the rest of the ceremony. I could never be the same.
It makes no difference to me whether sound art is produced with technology or not. All means are sacred. I sometimes think that the technology that we imagine that we create out of thin air is in fact a mirror of the spiritual world. This piece is a meditation on air as an elemental spiritual energy. All of the sounds used in this piece are produced with air.
“Wayda” is designed as a sound installation that runs continuously spinning out variations on itself with no beginning or end. It is best presented in a darkened, empty, acoustically dry and isolated room with 8 loudspeakers arranged around the outside. Listeners have the freedom to enter and leave at any time.