On Saturday I continued my activity, leading people around gallery 2 in blindfolds and ear defenders for a chance to experience the voyeur – the new Sean Dower exhibition – in a whole new way. Armed with blindfolds, mindfolds (google them!) ear protectors and some brown noise on an ipod (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brownian_noise) I invited visitors to walk and be led around the exhibition, one without sight and one with no hearing in a bid to invigorate the imagination and experience the exhibition in afresh. This was the second time I have done this – the first time was last month, and both times the response has been incredible. It seems that participants have genuinely loved the opportunity to experience the work in this way as well as experience their senses in a new way! Below are a selection of the responses from people, along with the questions they were asked:
From the people who experienced the exhibition first without any sound:
Look up at the satellite dish. What sound can you imagine that this piece makes?
‘A laser gun firing’
2. (Diffusion wall)
What sound do you imagine this wall making?
What sort of music do you think might be coming out of the television?
‘A low percussive sound’
Did you hear the cabinet make a sound? Describe it…
‘Low sound bit like running something along a radiator’
‘Like feedback from an amp’
‘Drum roll. I could feel the vibrations’
What sound can you imagine coming out from the pictures? Do you think different coloured pictures will have different sounds? Tell me more…
‘Pink – boom; Black & white – bing bing; Yellow – wee wee wee; Blue – Shhhh’
‘Mountain sounds, birds, crickets. I imagine the black & white picture to be less chirpy’
‘Wind, stormy weather. No difference between colours’
What do you think that you will hear on the other side of the glass?
‘A tap – running water?’
7. Describe what you think the whole room sounded like?
‘Like a very stormy day!’
And from the people who experienced the exhibition first without any sight:
What can you hear in the room? What do you think that you are stood beneath?
‘Water going down a pipe. Someone tapping knitting needles together’
‘2 sounds – 1 like an undercurrent pulse, the other a higher ringing tone overlaid. Something aquatic’
‘Echoey, clicking in the distance – like the wind rushing past or an underground train. A huge mobile’
2. (Diffusion wall)
Can you hear a change in sound? What do you think is in front of you?
‘Tapping like a clock. A giant clock’
‘There’s still clicking and bass, but a tone lower. I imagine psychedelic lighting’
‘There’s a sharper more metallic sound, like fingers down a blackboard. A blackboard?’
There is a television in front of you. What do you imagine might be showing on it?
‘Something quite dark. You can’t quite make what it is. Its like fuzzy silhouettes’
‘It might be oceans or visual optic images expressing movement and shapes’
‘An explosion. A storm’
Describe the sound that you just heard… Where do you imagine this sound came from?
‘Like a distorted muffled voice. A giant speaker’
‘The sea but not organic. Like it’s being played back through bad speakers. It sounds like a tribe’
‘Storm wind, a hurricane. It feels like I’m in California just before a storm hits’
What sounds can you hear now? Can you hear differences as you move your head? Please describe…
‘A drum. If I were a child I would imagine this to be in a tunnel, but its like being in a vacuum’
‘A rushing noise – a tunnel or a roaring crowd, wind or sea. As I move my head the sounds seem to spin around it’
‘It’s like Dr Who, or something that’s trapped in a small space that’s not happy about it. There’s phasing as I move my head’
Describe what you have just heard and where you think the sound came from…
‘An old world war radio with French or German announcements’
‘A German middle aged male, someone knowledgeable’
‘French, as though I was listening to an old tinny radio. It’s like a glass against the wall. It feels like I’m listening to a conversation that I want to translate so I can know what they’re saying’
What do you think this is in front of you? What can you hear?
‘Recycled scrap musical instruments. It sounds futuristic and mechanical’
‘A resounding echoing metallic band – like a gong or something cutting something metallic. Its almost a chant, but not quite’
‘It sounds like a transmission from another planet. I think these sounds are coming from outer space’
It seemed that the loss of sight definitely encouraged people to use more active descriptions, though this may have been because they were just saying their answers out loud, rather than writing them down themselves. All in all the whole thing has been such a fascinating experience, and I’d strongly recommend next time you find yourself with a moment to spare, either close your eyes and have a good listen or close your ears and have a good look around!