Jewel of the Ear

temple musicians

“Jewel of the Ear” was commissioned by Deutschland Radio for the Art’s Birthday Festival 2015, and has also received funding from Pro Helvetia for research in India. It is a collaborative project initiated with Gilles Aubry.

“Jewel of the ear” is the English translation of Manikarnika, the Hindi name of the most important funeral temple in the city of Varanasi in India. Located next to the holy Ganga river, this temple is the main site of Hindu religious body cremations, following a precise symbolic ritual based on cosmic renewal. Hindu religion posits the necessity of the material destruction of the body for the perpetuation of the cosmic cycle of life. Thus, cremation becomes synonymous with creation.

As a product of the late 19th century Western Christian society, the technology of audio-recording is strongly rooted in ideas about the material fixation of sound for the purpose of preservation after death. Fragile 78 rpm records therefore provide another opportunity to reflect on death and preservation, creation and destruction. Millis and Aubry explore these ideas through sound, improvisation and abstract composition.

More information, sound samples and images available HERE