In addition to the Big Ears Film, we at Rock Fish Stew have reflected on our rich experiences at the festival in a variety of ways and formats over the past two years.
In the spring and summer of 2015, we produced a 10-part online multimedia series for The Paris Review called "Big, Bent Ears: A serial in documentary uncertainty," blending material from the festival with other documentary pursuits.
From May 2015 to January 2016, the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh hosted an exhibition based on the series, called "Big, Bent Ears: an multimedia installation about listening." Photographs, video, and audio from Big Ears blended with a collection of objects amassed by New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell. Mitchell became a legendary figure at the New Yorker magazine in the 1940s-1960s due to his profiles on people and places outside society and outside time, culminating in his novel-length piece Joe Gould's Secret, published in 1964. After that, he stopped publishing and started collecting old and abandoned objects, eventually amassing some 6000 of them, according to some estimates. Although there was no overt connections between Big Ears and Joseph Mitchell, we believed they spoke to one another. Mitchell was also one of the century's great listeners, his first book called My Ears Are Bent.
After our first experience at Big Ears in 2014, we were inspired to make two films from the festival, which we believed reflected the inspiring openness of the fiestival. One was on homegrown Tennessee piano tuner Tim Kirkland, the other on improvisational sound trio Nazoranai, composed of legendary Japanese musician Keiji Haino, Stephen O'Malley of Sunn0))) and electronic improvisational musician Oren Ambarchi.