Water Drumming

Socially-engaged and place-responsive sound art performance (2014 - Present)

I had a dream. A dream that I was larger than the ocean, and the ocean was a drum. A resonant body. Absorbing my impact to its depths. Receiving my story. Amplifying my gesture. Listening to the land. Giving life. 

I have been researching the traditional drums and drumming found in my ancestral background. In this research, I've learned how the drum is the voice of the landscape from which it came - experienced in relationship to its surroundings, past and present, and in a constant process of transformation. 

The same could be said of water. It is constantly transforming, responding to the landscape and the communities situated around it. Water is the connective tissue of our planet, and it requires constant cooperation.

In 2014 I took part in a ten day rural artist residency on the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia called White Rabbit. The residency encourages engagement with the natural surroundings, which includes the Bay and the highest tides in the world. I decided to respond to the rhythms and cycles of the tide by engaging with the water as if it was a drum. 

Water drumming is a very visible articulation of water as connective tissue and how our actions echo outward. By employing rhythm, which requires cooperation within individual bodies, between people and with the environment, we see it emanating outward, in concentric waves, becoming larger than the composite parts. We also see people working together, and with the water. We hear collective, rhythmic gestures, an articulation of a united consciousness, in the context of the larger rhythms and cycles of the ocean. Through drumming, the water can speak.

Thank you to Arts Nova Scotia and White Rabbit Arts for supporting this project.

Witness the video CBC Arts produced about this project: http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/2677039088/

First photo by Lucas Ferguson-Sharp. Other photos by Eli Gordon.