"Weeping Bamboo" is an exploration of digital media for communicating and preserving indigenous forms of oral culture. It is a locational sound art piece offering a site-specific, reactive soundscape that can be experienced in public at the Plaza de Bolívar. Building on the notion of “resonance,” the correlated vibration of bodies, as a way of transmitting sonic and gestural experiences, the project creates a rich layering of the different stages of history of Manizales. Through a custom-made, augmented reality headset, the audience experiences a layering of environmental sounds with a spatialized multi-channel soundscape. This soundscape, which seems to be coming from the space within the listener’s head, is transmitted through the bone structure of the skull and merges with the environmental sounds perceived through the ear. Beginning with narratives of indigenous myths all the way to todays environment the project offers a narrative soundscape that is correlated with the actual geography of the plaza through a GPS location-tracking unit, inertial sensors and a microphone.
The project title "Weeping Bamboo" is inspired by the aboriginal Quimbaya burial culture found in the Manizales area, where the tombs were fenced with bamboo poles with holes cut into their stems. As aeolian instruments, they were humming and crying evocative whistles to the winds. The only way we know of this tradition is through the written records of the colonial witnesses. On one hand these records tell about the burried aspect of the poetic and artistic nature of the culture that disappeared, and on the other hand about the fragility of the culture that has been extinguished without vestige of its existence due to the non-material nature of its cultural heritage. The songs of the Aeolian instruments as well as their myths relied mostly on oral transmission.