S A B U L A T I O N ( A l  A z i f )

Installation. 30-minute sound composition from field recordings and black-and-white video footage, looped. Four speakers & two large subwoofers. Premiered at AichiTriennale, Nagoya, Japan, 2010

DVD/book release on Japanese label mAtter 2016

Sabulation (AL Azif) is created from video and sound recordings of the ‘Singing Sands’ in the deserts of Oman, one of the few places in the world where the shifting sand dunes emit deep tones. The sounds were captured using vibration sensors buried inside the dunes. The video is projected on a large screen in a dark room accompanied by sound from the two subwoofers and the four speakers placed in a corner of the room.

..He never heard the phenomenon himself, but that he was often told about it by the Arabs, more particularly in relation to the dead city of Jahura, never visited by a European, and hidden away in the Great Desert, somewhere about the 22nd parallel of the latitude and the 51st of the longitude, midway between the borders of Hejaz and Oman. There the sounds of drumming and moaning are regularly heard at night by passing travelers, by whom they are of course attributed to jinns or ghosts, persons of weak intellect having even been known to lose their reason. (Heart of Arabia, 1922)


"He tried thinking of something else. When he closed his eyes, a number of long lines, flowing like sighs, came floating toward him. They were ripples of sand moving over the dunes. The dunes were probably burned onto his retina because he had been gazing steadily at them for some twelve hours. The same sand currents had swallowed up and destroyed flourishing cities and great empires. They called it the "sabulation" of the Roman Empire...."

Excerpt of the English adaptation of the novel 'Woman in the Dunes' by Kobo Abe, 1962. The word Sabulation refers to the ancient Roman city Sabratah, today a deserted ruin by the Mediterranean sea in Libya

Image on the right; Photo of the Singing Sands from Tales of Travel, Kedleston, 1923