Awakenings – Manja Ristić (LINE, 2023)

Today at work I left a meeting in the morning and as I was walking back towards reception, there was a rainbow projected onto the carpet, refracted through the glass doors from the courtyard. Just a little rectangle of split light that probably appears there most days the Sun is out, but I’d never noticed before.

Later on, as I was leaving (I’m usually one of the last suckers to exit the building) I was coming down the front stairs and in the split moment that I could see the road through the windows as I circled down the staircase, I saw a little car drive by with a pot of beautiful white flowers sat in the passenger seat.

My day was pretty dull for the most part, meetings and document review, but there was something about those micro-moments that just made it that little bit better for the seeing. These are the things in-between, the fragmentary poetry of the world, expressions of fleeting beauty that go unnoticed and are barely remarkable even when they are. Yet they exist all the same.

Though Manja’s Awakenings is a collection of aquatic sampling and fluidised sounds caught at water’s boundary, that ever suggestive and symbolic horizon, it strikes me that those fleeting graces I experienced today fall within a similar framework of perception. Slices through the life-stream, transient and unassuming jewels that separate the dutiful banality of daily life from the precious world of derived and incidental beauty that only humans seem to perceive.

We don’t come alive grinding over spreadsheets or auditing reports: life and its beauty happens picking our way over rockpools at low tide, dousing our feet at the surf’s edge running away from the lapping waves, those unusually colourful shells and rocks that catch our eye caught in a billion grains of sand. And when that’s not possible, it’s those splashes of light and colour and humanity that pepper an otherwise artificial realm. Working life is almost like sleepwalking, but sometimes we can catch a glimpse of a living world and jolt ourselves with pleasant reaction. Awakening, briefly.