In Week 3 of the Seeing the Unseen studio, we had a temporary tutor, Sophie, who exposed us to the the concept of sound and its correlation between noticing and introspection. Starting off the lesson, the class grouped themselves according to the piece of reading they chose;
- Gallagher, Michael. “Listening, Meaning and Power.” On Listening. Edited by Angus Carlyle & Cathy Lane, Uniformbooks, 2013
- Cusack, Peter. “Field Recordings as Sonic Journalism.” On Listening. Edited by Angus Carlyle & Cathy Lane, Uniformbooks, 2013
Discussion around the first reading involved the meaning and impact of sound – how humans always add meaning to sound and the two parties that are involved with sound, that is, the listener and the ‘other party’ creating the sound. To further expand, there are two assumptions that come with sound. The first one being is that “listening is primarily about the transmission of accuracy” – the listener is actively engaged in the act of comprehending what the other party is attempting to express. The second assumption is when listening is done ‘genuinely’ and not ‘tokenistically’, it enables both parties to be on equal footing. If sound validates power, then so must listening.
When it came to the second reading, Cusack highlighted the use of sound in a professional setting and of course, the implications that came with it. Radio news, current affairs, sound documentary are almost all unquestioned due to its reliance – this is rooting from the idea that sound, including non-speech gives the audience information about events and places. For example, listening on location can reveal hidden ideas and story, just based on listening. As Sophie mentioned, there is an affective quality of sound; a certain quality of it that is indescribable. Therefore, sound itself can produce so many different traits and attributes, igniting our senses and giving us opportunities to notice sound.
With the reading, came the listening exercises – this was done so in order for us to truly understand the meaning behind the readings;
- the first audio was bombs being dropped in Beirut – it was a totally different sound from what I expected
- Second audio: the sound of a motor boat with the recording device underwater – it had a sound similar to a heartbeat and was rhythmic
- the final audio was another underwater audio, however it was different from the second one – it did not have any rhythmic qualities and it was more of a random pattern rather than the second audio
The lesson ended with Sophie assigning us the task of recording two pieces of audio – one needs to be in a quiet space and the second one needs to be recorded somewhere in our daily lives. What I got out from this lesson is that sound is a very powerful form of medium and should get more recognition that it is not already getting. Sound itself is noticing.
The power of sound, without any background information or view we can easily paint the picture as sound gives the field of imagination to the audience.
Audio played in class – Poetry, Texas by Danish poet and radio producer Pejk Malinovski. (It is radio feature about the town in Texas called Poetry, as well as poetry as a form of writing)
For our second workshop we continued to have Sophie, we did different exercises aiming to be able to describe sound and to hear sound in a different way/ angle. Firstly, we shared and listened to each other’s recording from yesterday, we discovered that since this is our daily life so we might miss out a lot of small things when we passed everyday, but when we change the mode of noticing to hear and to listen what are the surroundings in our daily life we all discovered that there were much more going on than we thought and noticed.
Then, the second exercise was to list our what we can hear inside/outside the classroom and describe them in words (e.g. metaphor) to let the rest of the group guess what the sound you heard. While discussion, most of us agreed that we will always notice the big things first no matter is through viewing or listening; we also agreed that we will notice human things first then an object. Maybe that’s why we can always find different things in the recording because there are so many layers of sound that we only have our attention on the obvious things (louder sound).
Acoustique – The last class exercise was to record 1 -2 minute, the recording needs to tell information about the space, looking at the change of space; the size of space etc. This exercise highlighted once more when people became used to something, it can a voice/ sound/ object they might not pay attention to it when we have already seen or heard it hundreds of time unless we make ourselves pay full attention to listening. For example, the tram, people who live in Melbourne will hear so many times of tram passed by around you, but how many times did we actually noticed the sound it stopped and moved again; what’s the difference between hearing the tram indoor and outdoor? Another example, when a space is crowded and huge, how far can we hear and how many layers of sound can we receive at the same time?