top of page

Eternal Time / Kyriaki Costa 2014

The 'space' of the 'upper' layer is linked with an infinite web of exchanges, open to messages

that connect the entire world.

At the other end of the spectrum is pure, protogenic matter, the foundation cornerstone, the wis- dom of the rock itself, on whose strata eternal time is recorded.

The sounds of the earth intervene assertively in their own noisy language to bring about harmony, the golden mean.

Real life is invisible, hidden in the rhizome. All plans to set down limits are temporary, vulnerable to redesign or extinction. This is a mere illusion of annihilation because the core is in a state of perpetual flow.

Type of work:

1. audio installation of underground sounds

2. a printed booklet with music scores of earth sounds and short stories that are linked to the earth.

The sound of the earth

The physical plane,  -that which Plato in Τimaeus calls «χώραν» (52b) or «receptacle» («ὑποδοχήν», 49a)-,  is the «ἐν ᾧ γίγνεται» (50d): that in which whatever takes place, whatever becomes, becomes. «That in which it becomes» (the «ἐν ᾧ γίγνεται») is the «seat» («ἕδρα», 52b) of becoming, the «place» («τόπος», 52b) of every genesis;  and if we would wish to particularise this concept even further, in a way that is more immediately comprehensible and tangible, we could say that this, more specifically, states the ground, the earth. 

The earth is indeed that from which grows, or is born, whatever is born, and that which receives within it, once again, whatever decays or dies. During this natural process of birth and death, the earth is not identified with those things which are born from it or return to it. Those things that «enter» into it and «exit» from it, and which are permanently differentiated from it itself, are, according also to the specific terminology of Plato’s Timaeus, the «εἰσιόντα» (50c) and the «ἐξιόντα» (50c). The earth is not identified, either with the «εἰσιόντα», or with the «ἐξιόντα». It is always only the pure «ἐν ᾧ»: that into which enter, and out of which exit, all the things that enter and exit. 

In the naturalness of the never-ending becoming, all things,  -both the «εἰσιόντα» and the «ἐξιόντα», as well as the earth itself-,  exist, each one producing its own natural sound. 

According to American composer John Cage, absolute silence does not exist, for the precise reason that all things have, or are in a position to produce, some specific sound of their own. Therefore, neither is music itself understood, in this context, as, solely and exclusively, the creation of a group of sounds which musical instruments produce. Music can also be any random group of sounds which it is additionally possible to be created by the use, the friction, the beating, the clashing together or the mutual correlation of a plethora of other objects which are made by man, as well as, and primarily, the sounds which nature itself produces by itself.  

Within its naturalness, the specific natural sound that the earth produces is subject, nonetheless, to changes. It is not immutable. In this sense, this sound is in effect not one sound. The earth makes its presence evident through sound in various ways. Sometimes it produces a calm sound, and at other times this sound becomes sharper. Its sharpness is caused, for example, by the archaeologist’s pickaxe. 

Through the excavation, an intervention is in essence made into the natural state of the earth, and in consequence, into its sound.  The excavation is a violent act. Indeed, only as a violent act can the earth perceive it, since by this, what is attempted, is the forceful extraction of the «εἰσιόντα» which had naturally entered it at some point. At the time of the violent extraction of the «εἰσιόντα» and the forced separation of the earth from what naturally it itself once received within it, its natural sound is transformed into a scream.  

However, what would we ever know about our roots without this extraction? What could we ever know about what we had been? About what those people, from whom we are descended, were like? Knowledge passes through the depths of the earth. Through the violence against the earth and the forced alteration of its sound;  through the scream that each uprooting brings about. 

This specific uprooting is not, however, the same as any other. This precisely enables the acquisition of knowledge. Through the uprooting of the roots it becomes possible to obtain scientific knowledge about the roots.   

And the acquisition of this science brings about deliverance from time. 

When through the excavation that which lies there, inside the earth, is discovered, what is indeed achieved is the epistemological approach of that which remains the same through the centuries, without ever changing any longer. What is achieved is the contact with that which is no longer characterised by movement and by change.  In other words, the excavation renders possible the finding of that which no longer comes within the «movable image of eternity» («εἰκώ … κινητόν τινα αἰῶνος», Timaeus, 37d), and which has by itself now been transformed into something temporally timeless. Consequently, the extraction of the temporally timeless from the earth marks immediately at the same time, and in an opposite way, our own penetration into the eternal, or our own, within time, deliverance from time. In this case, this salutary uprooting, not only should not, therefore, not be committed, but indeed it becomes necessary. 

Over and above and independently of this necessity, which from time to time allows the violence against the earth, it must also, however, in parallel,  -and to the greatest possible extent-,  be permitted, to the earth itself as well, to be able to be what it is. In periods of calm or of the absence of external interventions, the earth itself as well must be able to be left to be heard in the fluctuations of its natural sound. Its sound must be left to be itself. When this is entirely itself and is left to be heard as such,  -either in that precise way that nature knows, or, in particular, through specific creations that recreate it-,  then that which distinguishes it is only a purely quiet flow. It is that natural flow which acoustically fluctuates between the very quiet and nothing;  it is that natural flow of the almost imperceptible,  -as is, for example, that flow which, distinctly and clearly, is offered through the sound installation «Timeless time» by the Cypriot visual artist Kyriaki Costa. 

The sound of the earth, whether it is naturally quiet, or, suddenly, due to an external intervention, it is changed and made sharper, it never in any case ceases to exist. Within its transitions, the sound of the earth has an uninterrupted continuity. It is similar to the «true duration» («la vraie durée», H. Bergson, Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience, PUF, 6th edition, 1997, p.67), which, according to the Bergsonian view, flows constantly, without interruption, in the interior of the human consciousness, and which the human consciousness itself perceives immediately, inside itself, as a continuous succession of states of consciousness, each one different from the others, that penetrate each other, or as a continuous «pure heterogeneity» («hétérogénéité pure», p. 77). 

Owing to the uninterrupted continuity of its sound, the earth is not, therefore, only that which hides, buried inside it, the temporally timeless, but, in the final analysis, it is also at the same time that which it itself becomes as well a participant in eternity, through its sound. Its sound is the sound-«true duration», which is not divided into minutes and hours, because division and dissection mean interruption. It is the sound-time, which has no time: it is that sound which allows time to meet eternity, without contradiction;  the sound-«eternal time», which Plato, aptly and with originality, calls «ἀεί χρόνον» (Phaedo, 103e).


Eleni Papamichael 

Doctor of Philosophy

bottom of page