Our global modern environments are overstimulated. We are constantly focusing on many things at once, multitasking at every turn. Especially in a modern city setting such as New York, the public is constantly surrounded by media, messaging, sounds and noises from transportation and other people as well as our thoughts of what’s next. Focus is, in a way, being redefined as a fragmented approach to the tasks at hand, whether it be having a conversation, working on an assignment, or finding a moment to relax. This environment is forcing us to use all of our senses at once, and prioritize the things we pay attention to. In doing so, we eliminate the ability to experience one sense at a time and be fully aware of our surroundings.
As a sound artist I often struggle with the question of “are people really listening?” Does the person on the phone walking down the street hear the cars beeping at the crosswalk? I am inspired by psychoacoustics, how we hear and interpret sounds. The audio I use in my work is recorded from daily life, sounds that might otherwise get zoned out and ignored. These sounds, such as the elevator closing, buttons being pressed or the wind blowing through a crack in a window are often ignored due to their perceived insignificance. By capturing these sounds, and giving them a second chance to be recognized as something of importance, the sounds are revitalized and given a life of their own. Sounds that I choose are altered and edited to create a soundscape. The soundscape is an environment where the sounds become characters in their own world. I invite the audience to listen to the track with the hope that they will use their imagination to create a visual component to the sounds.
To experience this soundscape and focus on the auditory sense, I have created two visors that are modular immersive environments to help the listener focus on what they are hearing. They allow the listener to escape their immediate environment so they will not be distracted by their location. In turn, this allows the listener to focus on the sounds and gives them the freedom to experience the sounds on a personal level without being seen by others. One visor is reflective silver so people can see themselves looking at the person wearing the visor. The inside of that visor is opaque white so that the listener cannot see others. The other visor is white plastic with a hive like pattern that hides the wearers face from the public. The white pattern reminds me of the arches of the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, designed to provoke meditation through pattern repetition. The visors I have made that attach to headphones are a way to isolate from distractions, and create a safe, cocoon-like, space to experience the soundscape and create their own experience based on their interpretation.