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Pauline Oliveros – The Goddard in the Dan Harpole Cistern


After watching Dan Harpole's film of Goddard in the Cistern, one is struck by how creepy the location appears and feels. In the light, you can just make out a lengthy ladder leading down into a concrete-walled area. It's absolutely dark, with only the top hatch and a small lamp providing lighting. This sequence accounts for a significant portion of the plot. Three persons are seen climbing up and down the ladder, which might be regarded the music piece's official start. Additionally, while the name "Dan Harpole Cistern" suggests a vast space, it appears to be a homemade video. A hum and other vocal noises travel across the room, bouncing off the walls. The women's voices generate a hum that contributes to the room's unique feel. The beautiful singing is interrupted by metal fragments falling on the floor. One would ask how much thought went into the sounds, given that the majority of them appear to be chosen at random. The emphasis is not on making sounds, but on how their sound can be altered by their surroundings. It is more vital to listen than to create. This is congruent with the concept of "deep listening," in which the focus changes from the sounds themselves to a state of listening similar to meditation. This concept is central to Pauline Oliveros' work. This is an intriguing concept, comparable to Lucier's "I sit in a room," in that it focuses on both what we hear and how it happens.


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