Fionn Duffy

The Words Sunk, Richer and Sweeter
red pine, paraffin wax, pigment, cedar oil

Acoustic Jars were inserted into a number of
churches across northern Europe during the
medieval period, either high in the walls or
underneath choir stalls, some even buried
completely under flagstones. These jars are
thought to have been based on Vitruvius’
writings on acoustics in Ancient Greek
amphitheatres, re-introduced by the church
as a way of amplifying sacred song.

Most of the acoustic jars found are cemented
into the stonework and so would be unable
to resonate
. The failure of this resurrection of
lost hellenistic technology 
and the commitment
that was put into building 
these jars into the
pre-existing  architecture, bring with them
questions surrounding 
human naivete in
response to technological progress.

The wax jars are scented with cedar oil,
referencing ‘viriditas’ a term that has for some
time confused theologians and scholars of
medieval music. It was used extensively by
Hildegard von Bingen in her devotional writings
and is thought to be a religious reference,
however the closest that scholars can translate
it to is “green-ness”.


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