Matthew Ariaratnam & asmaa al-issa

Idle Resonance

The creation of Idle Resonance was a practice in examination, a close-listening, a process of holding up a magnifying glass to the seemingly silent. The work is intended as an audio visual installation, with a full wall projection, and a 4-channel sonic spatialization. The rhythm of the work is a visual and aural mantra allowing for an opportunity to pause and sit with the repeated sounds and images, without dwelling on the source material.

In response to the constant visual and aural stimulation in our daily lives, this piece focuses on the notion of idleness. Bertrand Russell (1935) examines the importance of inaction as promoting “a contemplative habit of mind;” not every type of experience needs to be useful. In putting time into matters not connected with work, purposeless action is revealed as necessary rest for the mind. Russell’s exploration of the value of being idle inspired us to purposely strip away information and present sound and image without discernible references or sources. What remains is the constant and repetitive din, urging us to slow down and focus on the rhythm of our thoughts and breath.

This view of idleness follows Andre Lepecki’s (2006) discussion of still-acts as political action (emphasis in original):

[Still-acts] describe moments when a subject interrupts historical flow and practices historical interrogation. Thus, while the still-act does not entail rigidity or morbidity it requires a performance of suspension, a corporeally based interruption of modes of imposing flow. The still acts because it interrogates economies of time, because it reveals the possibility of one’s agency within controlling regimes of capital, subjectivity, labor, and mobility (pg. 15).

Idle Resonance is a contemplation of the value of inaction and reflection. With Lepecki's view of stillness in mind, this piece allows for a brief practice of stillness as a political action; interrupting and slowing down the enforced, constant, and rigid pace within contemporary life. The work pushes towards examination of self and agency of self in a larger complex world, and allows exploration of the self in a stripped down and bare form; ear squinting to hear what is beyond the ostensible.


Lepecki, Andre. Exhausting Dance: Performance and the Politics of Movement. Taylor & Francis, 2006.
Russell, Bertrand. In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, inc, 1935.


Matthew Ariaratnam is a composer, improviser, and guitarist. His music and research explores sonic textures, graphic/alternative scoring, field recordings, prepared instruments, installation, electroacoustic music, performative listening, and songwriting. Matthew’s music has been heard nationally on CBC radio and also internationally. He is involved in the musical projects Mice Bards, Organic Strategies, Waylaid, Sweet Pieces, and Code of Silence. Within these projects he is exploring interdisciplinary work in Vancouver, working with performance artists, physical theatre makers, dancers, visual artists, laptop gurus, and other musicians. Matthew has a Bachelor degree in Music Composition from Wilfrid Laurier University where he studied with Peter Hatch, Linda Catlin Smith, Glenn Buhr, and Terry McKenna. He is currently a Master of Fine Arts Candidate at Simon Fraser University.

asmaa al-issa is currently in the Master of Fine Arts program at Simon Fraser University, and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Calgary in 2013. Her process-based work attempts to cultivating an attunement to the significance of ordinary surroundings, and is heavily informed by eastern philosophies and spiritual traditions.