Saturday, January 8, 2011

"I began to experience a strange tension with my technology".


Walking with Kabir by Shabnam Virmani: " As I ventured into the life of Kabir in the community, I began to experience a strange tension with my technology. The presence of my camera seemed to separate me from the action and relegate me to being a passive observer...Being part of the making process seemed more vital and important than consuming what is made, in my case, ‘recording’ it. It seemed imperative to be fully enveloped in the live pulsating music, to allow it to infiltrate your very pores and have the poetry literally enter your body by singing it...Our middle class lives deliver to us mediated experiences that come to us through books, TV, radio, music CDs and the internet — technology that can certainly deliver powerful experiences, but that can also circumscribe our lives, cut it off from immersion in a vital life force that exists in nature, in the tactile experience of sound, music and earth. We get alienated, we become watchers of spectacles, far-removed, we become phlegmatic, we don’t participate... What I realized in that moment was that in some sense, these were not my films at all. They were not something I made or earned or chose. They were experiences I received as gifts, from a space that lay beyond the claims of my small self. All I had to do now was to pass them on and gift them to others:

Meraa mujh mein kuchch naheen
Jo kuchch hai so teraa
Teraa tujh ko saunp dun
Kyaa laage hai meraa?
There is nothing in me that’s mine
All that is — is yours
I offer to you what’s already yours
What can I say is mine?"


Article by Shabnam Virmani January 2010 Seminar magazine based on a talk she gave in October 2010. View Shabnam's talk and singing here:

Shabnam Virmani is a filmmaker and artist in residence at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore, India. 7 years ago she started travelling with folk singers in Malwa, Rajasthan and Pakistan in a quest for the spiritual and socio-political resonances of the 15th century mystic poet Kabir in our contemporary worlds. Her documentary Koi Sunta Hai: Journeys with Kumar & Kabir can be watched online at Culture Unplugged

I recommend her work to you. It is profound.

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