Stone garden 01

A four channel sound installation, microphone, laptop and multiple stones. 2002

Rees Archibald and Phillip Schulze

Stone Garden 01 is a sound installation based upon the Zen rock garden at the Ryoanji temple in Kyoto, Japan. The garden, dating from 1488, is a product of the Karesansui (dry landscape) garden style and does not contain any trees, large plants or water, being comprised of 15 rocks of varying size set in a 30-meter by 10-meter raked pebbled area. These rocks are arranged in 5 groups comprised of five, two, three, two and three rocks. Due to their specific arrangement, it is only possible to see 14 of the rocks at any one time, regardless of the angle the garden is viewed from.

Stone Garden 01 is a response to analyses of the garden based upon purely aesthetic criteria. Rather than seeking to understand the garden through a deconstruction and analysis of the aesthetic arrangement of its elements, the work advocates a method of engagement with the garden based upon physical action in combination with diaphragmatic breathing as in meditation. Specifically, the daily act of mindfully raking the garden's pebbles functions as a physical focus, which in combination with controlled breathing can act to engender specific psychological states. The 'doing' of the garden is the garden's function.

Stone Garden 01 is comprised of 4 speakers, a shotgun microphone, stones and a computer. The speakers are set in a square, delineating the performance area and acting as metaphoric boundaries of the garden installation space. The sound environment is comprised of a palette of environmental and computer processed sounds stored in the computer, with only a single sound being played at a time. Stones are set in the centre of the installation space and these function as a trigger, with the sound impulse resulting from them being clapped together being registered by computer software, causing a random change between sounds in the palette.

Stone Garden 01 is based upon the idea of the rocks in the Ryoanji garden being a 'shock' in the setting of the white gravel. Breaking the order of the raked pebbles, the rocks metaphorically break the repetitive patterns of thought and action we fall into in daily life. In our installation the clapping of the stones changes the sound environment, symbolizing a change in perception as a result of interaction with the Ryoanji garden.