In a Blink of my Ear
Final Project 2020
Artistic Research and Installation
Soundscapes from forests to deserts are being lost or contaminated by human noise.
-Bernie Krause, Great Animal Orchestra, 2012
The study of sound in the landscape is based on an understanding of how sound, from various sources; biological, geophysical, and anthropogenic, can be used to understand human and non - human dynamics. The methodology of my project is based on research circulated around the Anthropocene, and how sound from the natural environment can be used as an aesthetic form.
In my artists' practice, I use documentary media that records image and sound to explore ontologies and poetics of the time. Collecting sound from the natural environment to create a personal narrative of history.
The Anthropocene, soundscape, bioacoustics, noise pollution, climate change, loss of biodiversity, visualising sound.
What is the project about?
The theme In a Blink of My Ear, reflects transitional spaces throughout the native woodlands of West Cork, that are a sites of construction, destruction, decay, and static. My final artwork aims to give a voice of nature that has been lost through the official oppressive course of climate change.
In my project, the environment is perceived as a sound in visual form. Sonic environment, soundscape, environmental sounds.
One of my key influences is a composer John Cage. In 1937, he remarked that what we might call noise at certain circumstances is ‘fascinating’ if we listen to it. And this fascination gives birth to a desire to us the sound of the environment as Musical instrument.
Wherever we are, what we hear is mostly noise. When we ignore it, it disturbs us.
When we listen to is, we find it fascinating. The sound of a truck at fifty miles per hour.
Static between stations. Rain. We want to capture and control these sounds,
to use them not as sound effects but as musical instruments.
- John Cage 1937
Environmental Decisions; Why my project is important?
With time, change is inevitable. Our earth has changed since the time of its formation through natural processes. However, in the most recent decades, all such processes have accelerated in a completely uncontrolled way due to anthropogenic activities. This has resulted in many problems ranging from the uncertainty of climate, increased disaster events, increased pollution level, melting of glaciers, deforestation, and decreased biodiversity.
This is why there is a need to strengthen information sharing and public participation in all environmental decision making. It is essential to share what is happening with our environment with people at all levels. It is urgently required to bring about a change in people’s outlook towards the environment and nature so that each one of us acts in ways that promote sustainability and harmony in nature.
Listening to the Environment
The blink of an eye lasts three hundred milliseconds. The blink of an ear considerably longer. From birth to dead, the ear never closes.
- Seth Kim - Cohen 2009
Listening to the whole of the environment at every present moment seems like a utopia. Following the definitions of hearing and listen in common language, I can hear the whole, but not pay attention to the sounds of each different activity as it is unfolding in time and space. It needs the practice of attention to follow. There are of course cases in the environment where the sounds are fewer or almost none, as in the case of an anechoic chamber which is a special case of space, an environment of no reflections - but which is not our everyday environment.
Usually, even in the silence of the quiet night in a place with no mechanical sound sources, there are enough sounds to stimulate our listening ability. Listening is to follow the sounds attentively and the whole sounding environment is made up of all sounds (real and imagined). Naturally, I can hear the ‘whole’ (in this very general sense) in a state of consciousness in which the ‘details’ are not so important, and in which probably all other senses are collaborating in its shaping.
Aesthetics of the Anthropocene
An Aesthetics of disruption and intrusion. Finding the fever of passion for the ideas “environment” (which I call surroundings) and ecology, both apparently such futile notions in these landscapes of desolation.
- R. Murray Schafer
In my project I investigate how human relate to the nature and how we can appreciate the beauty, fragility, and decay of our environment. The challenge of this project is to build a relationship between the human and the non- human world, between static and constant movement, noise and silence. How we can sense a new epoch called the Anthropocene, not only visually, but through our other senses.
By deconstruct our hearing and transforming sound into visual form, I rising the question:
If our ability, let us see the natural sound, would it increase awareness of our own acoustic behaviours, as well as our collective responsibility for the natural environment?
Recording and careful listening to environmental sounds and convert into a visual object, allow me to heed more attention to more details of the surrounding world. Discovery of the visualising soundscape is becoming part of my cultural experience.
Seeing Sound and New Technologies
My graduation project is based on environmental sound, sound visualising, and Virtual Reality,
From the all footage recorded in Myross Wood, West Cork, I creating three layers: video, sound visualising, and six channels audio.
It is a side specific, socially engaged project, as the viewers or participants will be able to use the baskets and see the sound through VR goggles.
How do I make my artwork
1. It is a site- specific project, situated in the West Cork Forest (in September will be made on Sherkin Island)
2. VR googles, and headset.
3. Audio, environmental sound, recorded in local woodland
4. Short video recorded of place where audio was recorded.
5. Compose sound from all recordings on Garage Band
6. Sound coding; using software to visualise sound. (Adobe After Effects)
7. Edit video with Da Vinci Resolve.
8. Edit all three media of my project: sound in visual form, video in Adobe After Effect software
9. Installation. Footage will be played via VR googles, and head set, placed inside an organic object, basket/ helmet made out of ivy and twigs collected on my sound-walk in Myross Woods.
Searching for the side, Myross Woods, Leap, Co.Cork
According to my Sound Mapping route, it will be 3 Stations, where I recorded sound for acoustic composition.
All, within 2 km radius from my home
My sound Maps are located in one of the oldest woodlands in West Cork.
Place which was destroyed by storm Ophelia in 2017.
sixty per cent of the forest is gone. To this day, destruction caused by Ophelia is very visible.
Myross Wood, Areal View from Google Maps
Station 1 Mapping the Sound
Sound Walk no. 1
Image of location
Sound Walk no. 1
Image of location
Station 3, side for my installation
Sound Walk no. 1
Image of location
"A komusō (虚無僧 komusō, Hiragana こむそう; also romanised komusou or komuso) was a Japanese mendicant monk of the Fuke school of Zen Buddhism, during the Edo period of 1600-1868. Komusō were characterised by the straw basket (a sedge or reed hood named a tengai) worn on the head, manifesting the absence of specific ego.They are also known for playing solo pieces on the shakuhachi (a type of Japanese bamboo flute). These pieces, called honkyoku ("original pieces") were played during a meditative practice called suizen, for alms, as a method of attaining enlightenment, and as a healing modality. The Japanese government introduced reforms after the Edo period, abolishing the Fuke sect. Records of the musical repertoire survived, and are being revived in the 21st century."
Komusō, or “priest of nothingness.” Instantly recognisable thanks to the woven baskets that they wear over their heads and the long flutes that protrude from beneath them, these Buddhist monks were unique for a number of obvious reasons. But it’s their haunting meditation melodies that may be their most enduring legacy.
The komusō, also sometimes translated as “monks of emptiness” or something similar, came to prominence around the 17th century in Japan, and formed a new class of itinerant monks, of the Fuke sect of Japanese Zen Buddhism.
In my project I use materials collected on my sound-walks, like a bark of fallen trees. Form collected natural object (mainly Ivy) I made a helmet, which is fitted with headset and VR goggles. (sound and visual)
Getting inspired by Japanese monks: reason for baskets on their head: manifestation of absence of specific ego.
My Ivy helmet representing absence of human superiority.
As anthropologist and writer Donna Haraway urges, we need to radically change the story of our relationship to nature and to each other in this time of rapid social and ecological flux, moreover, human have to start live with the nature, not outside the nature.
Baskets making, solving problems
checking the side with prototype of my basket.
Baskets, starting point
Inside the basket
Inside the basket
Ivy helmet made from organic materials, mainly Ivy, both, collecting and making happened on the side of my installation .
Side of my installation
Helmet will be place on the top on the tree trunk.
Ivy helmet made on the side of the installation
Participant sitting on the trunk of the tree, with Ivy helmet on the head.
Inside the helmet are VR goggles with visualised sound, video footage of local woods and six channels environmental sound