When the ear tells the eye where to look, 2023 

Concrete sound mirror, benches and activation transmission by Lower Levant Company - LLC (Emiddio Vasquez and Peter Eramian)

                                                                                                                                    Film photos by Julia E. Dyck

                                                                                                                                                              Snail details

Located near the British military border in Asomatos, Limassol, a concrete sculptural environment cast in-ground and extracted on site, amplifies its surroundings, while remaining hidden amongst the orange grove trees of Morir Soñando. 

Morir Soñando (“to die, dreaming”) is a Dominican orange juice beverage, after which the project space is named. Initiated by Penelope Vasquez Hadjilyra, this gathering space exists within an orange grove where several sound events and happenings have taken place. The land itself was originally lent to Michalis Hadjilyra, as part of a temporary arrangement for refugee farmers who lost their land in Morfou after the 1974 war, and is located a stone’s throw away from the official borders of Akrotiri military base, United Kingdom.

Ahead of World War II, large concrete acoustic mirrors were built across the coasts of Great Britain as early warning devices, in order to detect incoming enemy aircraft by the sound of their engines. Part of a more general development in acoustic defense and radio detection, the latter of which led to the invention of radar and, in turn, rendered these megalithic structures obsolete and into monuments to the power of listening and eavesdropping.

‘When the ear tells the eye where to look’ interweaves histories of the land, heritage and colonialism to resuscitate alternative modes of listening. LLC presents an environment of ritual, tributing the ear and grounding the act of listening as more than just passive auditory perception, towards deep listening as a social practice that mirrors what Ivan Illich calls “tools for conviviality”. With fragments of broken Cypriot ceramic money-banks – a saving habit of older generations – used to suspend the rebar and then congealed into the concrete sculptures, further suspending the current logics of value production, exchange and extraction.

Drawing on a complex and entangled history of transmission in Cyprus, with foreign actors playing a critical role, ‘When the ear tells the eye where to look’, is further complexified during its sound activation. Discovered by radio amateur enthusiasts, the seemingly naive leitmotif from the English folk song “The Lincolnshire Poacher” is sampled directly from a covert transmission operation that took place from the mid-1960’s to 2008 at RAF Akrotiri’s number station, during which encoded messages of simple, nonsensical number sequences were used, allegedly, by the British Secret Intelligence Service to communicate with their agents.

By way of inversion, the space is further sonically activated through a transmission of a rereading of numbers found in the notebook of late Michalis Hadjilyra, containing the calculated and documented amounts of water used for the orange grove; contrasting numbers of war with a commitment to the land and regeneration, whilst remaining critically attentive to the soft reflections and interferences of those transmissions.

Permanent outdoor sculptural environment in Asomatos, Limassol (34.63453744787407, 32.96134077494941). Organised by Thkio Ppalies & hosted by Morir Soñando.