Humans like to categorise things. It makes our lives easier. Yet in doing so, we are prone to separating the essentially inseparable. So let’s consider the objects which by nature object to such ruthlessness. Gil Delindro, a Berlin-based Portuguese sound & media artist, captures that subtle sound of objection. His tailor made acoustic tools effectively translate the volatile processes inherent in organic materials like water, wood, soil and geological waste. A gentle declaration of man’s insensitivity to the living environment, a provocative form of protest.
What exactly is Nature? Gil Delindro’s sound sculptures, composed of natural materials, are a way of giving Nature a voice. He unearths the acoustic qualities in barren locations that experience extreme weather patterns, from the Algerian-Moroccan border region of the Sahara desert to the Amazon Rainforest of Itatiaia in Brazil. His work is not garnished with disneyfied soundtracks of the audible surroundings; instead it is trained on the ephemeral sonic response hidden beneath the microscopic layers of Nature. You can hear the gravitational inertia of a stone acting against a pile of dried detritus in Peso Cego (2017). Or the melting of the frozen sediment extracted from the northern hemisphere in Permafrost (2017).
Delindro was born with high myopia, an extreme form of near-sightendess, which ultimately prompted him to explore unheard sound phenomena. “My parents only discovered my poor eyesight when I was seven,” he imparts. “I got to learn about all things around me through sound, touch, and close proximity, which I still do today.” His heightened non-visual sensitivity empowers him to find and experiment with the unobtrusive layers of physical properties.
In Fictional Forests (2020), an electroacoustic sound installation made up of bunches of rotating rye branches and a sound system, he further challenges the immutable preconception of Nature. Explaining the counter-intuitive aspect of this piece, he says: “Rye is a product of intensively human-dependent monoculture, just as industrialised as metal rods. We often create a romanticised perception of what Nature fundamentally is, without noticing the ambiguous borderline (and the conflict) between humans and Nature. My work is subtle, but it carefully operates in this limbo. As the audience looks deeper, they can uncover layers of anthropological symbolism and intention.” This comes across like an alternative reading of Warhol’s industrialism, seen here through the lens of environmentalism.
Most of Delindro's works have a savage appearance, reflecting the brutal and violent side of Nature. “Nature is unmercifully powerful,” he asserts. “She does not care, reply, or explain. People are impartially powerless in front of her.” Such brutality is well illustrated in his latest award-winning installation, Burned Cork — Resilience (2021), currently showing at Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves in Portugal. Its charcoal centrepiece of Cork Oak tree bark that was devastated by a massive wildfire in 2021, has an acoustic topography that produces sound on direct contact with its surface, in the manner of a vinyl record. Its heat resistance had kept its remains in shape and protected other species by slowing down the wildfire. “There is a clear geopolitical intention underlining the importance of reforestation policies and their obvious impact, as a form of prevention and response to deal with the increase in wildfires in the Mediterranean,” conveys Delindro.
His artistic approach, which recognises the wholeness of Nature and opposes fragmentalism, is heavily influenced by theoretical physicist David Bohm, and more particularly, by his book ‘Wholeness and the Implicate Order’. Delindro expresses the same idea through his work. “The interdependent ecosystem cannot be fragmented or fixed separately, but can only be understood as a whole,” he states. “My work is guided by the same concept. All parts of my sculpture are mutually interdependent and equally important – their actions, meanings, concepts, and existences. The installations come alive with time, erosion, acoustics, and atmospheric conditions. They operate on randomness, clash, and reaction. Mountains do not care about human emotions, just as my work has its own autonomy. My main interest is in the idea of continuous transformation, unpredictability, and decay. Nature is not something to describe, but rather, an active, unpredictable tool that affects my sculpture.”...
Voidness Of Touch, photo © José Pando Lucas
Perfmafrost, phoro © Gil Delindro
Fictional Forests, photo © Gil Delindro
Gil Delindro, photo © Deli Gleba
Burned Cork — Resilience, 2021, Berlin Masters Award, photo © Gil Delindro
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