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As modern life became more processed, filtered, and digital, delivered through screens to the eyes and brain, I decided to open up another avenue of consciousness by cultivating my senses. I’d always listened very closely to music. Now I started listening in the same way to birdsong, insect noise, the different sounds that wind and traffic can make, the rhythms that form and dissolve in the urban grind and clatter. When people came to my wooden-floored house, I paid close attention to the weight and rhythm of their footsteps, and tried to learn the sound of their gaits, so I could recognise them as they walked up the stone path to the front door.
Charles Bowden who lived in Las Cruces, New Mexico was an author and journalist who often wrote voraciously about life in the Southwest. He is most famous perhaps for the book Down by the River, non-fiction about the drug trade and brutality of the border towns. Writers might enjoy this short video on youtube from 2005 where he describes his beliefs and process.
It all began with a cardboard tube. A giant cardboard tube, addressed to “Oscar Rubio”. At work I have a foible about people who use our hostel address for their mail. Over the years the bulk of mail has grown exponentially with long forgotten visitors. When this over-sized package arrived for someone not even checked in to the hostel, my wrath had been invoked before we had even met.
Some time ago I made a video collage of the occupants using the bench in the park outside my home. I decided to make a new one from my home in New Mexico.
I have a handsome pigeon couple that come to visit me in my office. I was going to call them Lewis and Clark since they were clearly bold explorers, but I kept accidentally calling them “Lois and Clarke”, pop culture being the more dominant reference. No, I don’t know why Clarke has an “e”, but he does.