This post is the second of six for La Alquimia de los Sueños (The Alchemy of Dreams), a multi-sensory dinner performance by Julio César Morales and Max La Rivière-Hedrick, in collaboration with Frey Norris Contemporary & Modern.
Guillermo Galindo is a Mexico-born, San Francisco–based musician, sound artist, and educator. His work ranges from solo performance to orchestral endeavors, from originally designed instruments to fully immersive installations, from improvisation to sound design. For La Alquimia de los Sueños he pondered the interest that Remedios Varo had in resonance for resonance’ sake. This led him to, among other things, develop a system to turn the hall in which the event takes place into something akin to a single, over-sized speaker cabinet. An adjunct professor at the California College of Arts, he spoke in advance of La Alquimia de los Sueños about the influence of Varo and the surrealists on his work, about the manner in which water can be imbued with special energies, and about the role of sound in dreams.
Marc Weidenbaum: Can you talk a bit about how surrealism might have informed your work over the years?
Guillermo Galindo: As André Bretón mentioned it several times, Mexico is the ultimate surreal location in the world. I grew up with surrealism. I read Jodorowsky’s Fabulas Panicas comics at age 7, around the time when I first saw the paintings of Remedios Varo, Leonora Carrington, and Sofía Bassi. Alejandro Jodorowsky — who has influenced my musical, conceptual, and, compositional work — had a close relationship with Remedios Varo. I have also used in my work Markov chain narrative techniques, which I first experienced in the films of the surrealist Luis Buñuel. The use of symbolism and archetype, both visually and aurally, have been the axis of my work for many years. I see the Tarot as a means of communication through collective unconscious, and the understanding of dreams as a means of “individuation” and personal realization.
Weidenbaum: Can you discuss your early impressions of Varo, and what she and her work have come to represent to you?
Galindo: I remember being exposed to Varo’s paintings at a very young age. I believe that that my father showed me one of her paintings printed in the Mexican newspaper Excelsior. I must have been about 6 or 7 years old. All I know is that this experience left a big impression on me. Without any doubt, she is a seminal influence in my present work and in my present interest in archetypes and dreams.
Weidenbaum: Do you have a sense of what you will be doing for the project? Last we spoke, you were exploring using the firehouse as a resonating space.
Galindo: I will be doing a brief piece resonating the building with low frequencies controlled at will, possibly using a Wii controller. 2. A virtual bar of charged clear water: between 3 and 5 crystal bottles containing water imbued with different energies and served as a substitute for alcohol. 3. Performing my six ciber-totemic boxes, which emit sound in response to light. 4. Possible conceptual Tarot readings.
Weidenbaum: What, please, is water imbued with different energies?
Galindo: There are 3 to 5 bottles of water that will be charged with different energies. It is known that the structure of water changes when imbued with particular energies. I can assure that the waters taste different when charged and can take you into altered states of awareness. An initial idea is myself running a bar with these infused waters. The bottles will be presented neatly and will be labeled accordingly.
Weidenbaum: Regarding the relationship between Tarot and the collective unconscious, can you talk a bit about specifically the role of sound in dreams?
Galindo: I have found that for most people it is difficult to remember the sound, or sounds, of their dreams. Most people, including me, have an easier time remembering music: music that accompanies the dream, music that is played by someone or, in my case, composition ideas that appear by themselves or performed by myself or someone else. As in real life, dream components have sounds: an explosion, someone walking in high heels, the sound of the rain etc. Having said this, I do think that sounds have their own significance in dreams — a significance not necessarily attached to the visual or narrative elements of a specific dream. In other words, I believe that sounds in dreams do have their own specific symbology.
Weidenbaum: Are there parallels between food and sound you’d like to discuss?
Galindo: I had a Chinese music student who, in order to reconnect to her homeland memories, recorded the sound of herself cooking of Chinese dishes, which she would cook one day each month. Then she would present random photographs of the dishes with the audio of the cooking sounds. Different foods have different textures of sound when one cooks them. This provides information about their physical nature and about the chemical reaction that they have when mixed over the fire with other elements. I think that the purest and most enjoyable “food” sound is the sound of water. I think that the sound of the water falling into a glass is a vital element when enjoying a good drink of water, not to mention the “clink” of the wine glasses, the sound of silverware, or the sound of clay, wooden, or ceramic plates and bowls.
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