Welcome to the Glass Gardens.
This is a place to rest in the grace of the world.
You are invited into a sonic wonderland, with many paths. Listen deeply. This is a garden of your own making. Layer by layer, you will build a world of translucent creatures that crawl and flutter, swirl and buzz. You will encounter words, images, and sounds. Take them in. They are your guides in this magic realm.
In your own time, make your choices and press play, let the sounds loop. When you are ready, move to the next layer and let the world grow around you.
This sonic experiment does not work on mobile devices.
We recommend listening with headphones.
Based on Glass Insects by Alice Chance.
Brought to you by the UNSW New Music Collective.
“Nature does nothing in vain when less will serve; for Nature is pleased with simplicity and affects not the pomp of superfluous causes.”
Isaac Newton from The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy
Simply, we start. You enter the enchanted garden. Subtle sounds abound, whispering, shimmering.
Choose 3 sounds.
You can try different options. Close your eyes and take it all in. When you’ve spent some time here and are satisfied with what you hear, scroll to layer two.
What do you notice first?
Don’t you imagine the leaves dream now
how comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of the air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees, especially those with
mossy hollows, are beginning to look for
the birds that will come—six, a dozen—to sleep
inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
stiffens and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its long blue shadows. The wind wags
its many tails. And in the evening
the piled firewood shifts a little
longing to be on its way.
Song for Autumn by Mary Oliver
As life unfolds, and you have crossed the threshold, Nature has mystery and wisdom to reveal.
Choose 2 sounds to add to your first layer.
Listen attentively. Dwell here for as long as you like. When you are satisfied, proceed to layer three.
What is revealed when you pay attention?
Be a person here. Stand by the river, invoke
the owls. Invoke winter, then spring.
Let any season that wants to come here make its own
call. After that sound goes away, wait.
A slow bubble rises through the earth
and begins to include sky, stars, all space,
even the outracing, expanding thought.
Come back and hear the little sound again.
Suddenly this dream you are having matches
everyone’s dream, and the result is the world.
If a different call came there wouldn’t be any
world, or you, or the river, or the owls calling.
How you stand here is important. How you
listen for the next things to happen. How you breathe.
Being a Person by William Stafford
The glassy insects twinkle and shimmer.
Come into stillness, listen beyond the noise of everyday. The world is “announcing your place in the family of things”.
Choose 2 sounds.
Notice how you feel ensconced in this garden. Deeper mysteries await, move to layer four when you are ready.
How do you touch the world?
the garden draws you in deeper
The sky was of the deepest blue, with a few white, fleecy clouds drifting lazily across it, and the air was filled with the low drone of insects or with a sudden sharper note as bee or bluefly shot past with its quivering, long-drawn hum,
like an insect tuning-fork.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
You're enveloped. Everything has a sound. It's bubbling with musical language, effervescent with life.
Choose 2 sounds.
The world is calling to your imagination. Are you ready?
Rest here a while … then add another layer.
How are you listening?
rest a moment ... observe
Moth: I gave you my life
Flame: I allowed you to kiss me
Hazrat Inayat Khan
The ecstasy of pleasure and annihilation coexist here. We're woven together in a web.
Tangled, sustaining, stuck, shimmering.
Choose 2 sounds.
Hear this glass world unfurl all around you. Lean into the echoes. Can you hear the most distant sound? Then move to layer 6.
What flame draws you in?
The penultimate layer, what does it hold?
It is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque. How if you saw through the garden too? It is no use trying to 'see through' [everything]. If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To 'see through' all things is the same as not to see.
Delve beneath what you can see.
It's not a visual seeing. Hold the miraculous ambiguities of life, don’t solve them.
Choose 2 sounds.
Let yourself be held by the world you have created.
The final layer lies ahead.
What are you seeing with your ears?
relinquish everything but the sound that swirls around you
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life
and my children’s lives might be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water,
and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry
A refuge. A place to shelter.
You have arrived at your final destination.
“Rest in the Grace of the World”
Choose up to 4 sounds.
Stay here as long as you like. This is a world of your own making.
Whose voices greet you here?
You're done. Sit, listen, rest.
Then, try to walk another path. Refresh this page. Try it backwards, building from the moon to a grain of sand. You will be amazed at the different world that unfolds.
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