Reflections on repeating the journey of Exercise 1.2 but with a new variant

A journey with a difference today – I forgot my main glasses and had one of my hearing aids in!

I am unable to wear my right hearing aid at the moment as we need to sort the new ‘hearing bit’ as I have had it changed to a mould and the left will be following suit in the near future but just actually forcing myself to use the one still made a huge difference to what I heard and noticed. I am notoriously lazy with my aids as I was only diagnosed about 6 or 7 years ago but my hearing loss is something I was born with … bearing in mind I am now 49 and with my aids I consequently find the world is too loud the majority of the time!!

So back to my journey – this was the same journey or walk I took for this part of the course but without my glasses the world is blurred …. note: I am long sighted in one eye and short in the other. It seemed today I was looking through a camera that was out of focus in the distance with some plants and objects much clearer in the foreground and this reminded me of some impressionist works or other art pieces in which atmospheric perspective is applied not just in terms of colour but in terms of blurred outlines and non-distinct objects.  This viewpoint today changed how I felt about the journey – yes there are more crocus out in bloom along with daffodils which in itself made the walk a little less grey in tone despite the weather being fairly similar but the blurring of shapes and boundaries reminded me of the watercolour I did of the still life this week, (the first A2 version), in which some of the edges of the objects were ambiguous and blended into each other.

But what about my observations regarding what I heard?  the traffic was heavier today but I noticed the different sounds of the engines of the cars as they went by and the sound of the wheels on the road and also was able to distinguish much more clearly the different variants of birdsong – the magpies were mercifully somewhere else as their caw can almost override all the other smaller birds as they chatter away or cackle at the world beneath them.  My aids can give a tinny tone to most noises although once I get used to it I barely notice but today it proved almost advantageous – the blackbird, whose song I recognise from my garden, was clearer due to its almost ‘shiny’ tone and I could hear some of the twittering of smaller birds that were reminiscent of the triangle musical instrument.  I was also much more aware of the voices of the people I walked past – this is a Saturday and was considerably busier in terms of the amount of human life in the area.  I could distinguish individual words as opposed to many being a blurred mix of noise without my aids. Although  I do not always understand the words spoken, if they are of a different language, I can hear the subtle accents on the equivalent of English vowels or variances and nuances in tones – it is like hearing our regional dialects which we often take for granted on a day-to-day basis  but more noticeable when you listen closely to other languages and it can be likened to differing musical genres or how the same musical score could be played with differing instruments. When I do not wear my hearing aids I do not notices these subtleties in the same way and this is also what I noticed with the birdsong as I could distinguish between two different birds of the same species in a way that I cannot without my aids – it is very difficult to convey the difference even just one aid can make to a person.

I was aware I was noticing much more small details that I could see clearly and came back with 3 small branches that have fallen in the storm this week – the lichen is just wonderful in terms of colour and texture and although I did not gather any there was a wonderfully green hebe plant in a nearby garden with clear markings on the leaves and clear distinct edges to the leaves.

The journey I took today made me view my walk very different and I wonder how I would translate this into an art piece or add to the two mixed media pieces that I did:  my first instinct would be to blur some of the edges of the buildings in the circular piece and find some metallic thread or thin wire to add highlights in small stab stitches to represent the birdsong or the metallic tones that I could hear.  I would also add some harder painted marks on the grey fabric to indicate the sound of the cars as they went by and the fast sounding crunch of the wheels on concrete.  I am not sure how I would try and convey the sounds of the voices – a mix of differing colours with some shades of one colour blending together but still separate in the middle perhaps to indicate the varying tones of the dialects.  I am aware that I noticed the rush of the wind too – I go through two alleyways and past trees and the wind rushes past my hearing aids and rustles my hair so long and short stitches could be added on the grey fabric area too to try and give an impression but perhaps at that point a small twig could be stitched on.

I do not want to change my original mixed media pieces and hence I am only describing the changes I would make at this point – I want to re-do this journey in the next few weeks as spring really starts to bring more colour to the area and it is at this point I will add another sample.  When I do take another trip I am also going to take a dictaphone with me so that I can record the sounds of the walk and work a painting from the recording in the same way that I have worked with music and let it dictate the nature of the piece – I would like to do one mixed media piece based on the whole journey in the same vein as Exercise 1.2 and then a second worked from the principles of Exercise 1.6 but combined with any new techniques that the following parts of the course add to my repertoire.

I am fascinated by how much my hearing changes how I perceive the world around me and it is something I want to continue to explore in my art – the combination of my hearing and strange variances of my sight may start to become part of my personal voice.  I am curious about using an eye patch to do some work with my sight and so would have to be done in short bursts to avoid eye strain but I want to explore how our primary senses of sight and hearing affect our perception of the world and combine this with touch – I am leaving taste and smell out at this point but the latter may yet be added because I am very much aware, like everyone, of how smell pays an important part of our lives but it is something that is rarely given an impression of in art and I wonder how that can be incorporated. I question how much our senses play a part in our art and how much we rely on them – a question that no doubt many many artists have asked and continue to ask in the exploration of their work and studies.




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