"Somatic Echo"is an experimental sound art and research project that utilizes bone conducted sound as a method to investigate human audition and create an unusual and mesmerizing aesthetic of the body as a medium of sound. The installation uses a reclining chair and a sound mask to play an 8-channel sound composition through 8 transducers placed on the user's head: 6 channels in the face and 2 in the back of the head. The transducers transmit sound through the bone structure of the skull directly to the listener’s inner ear, bypassing the outer ears, which normally are the gateway for auditory signals. The listeners experience the soundscape through both their auditory and tactile senses perceiving a sonic image shaped by the sound traveling through the head structure and through vibrations applied to the skin. This set up lets us experience sound through our body and our body through sound.
With the sound compositions of Somatic Echo, I focus on two areas of investigation: first, the physiological and psycho-physical aspects of spatial sound perception; and second, the emotional and mnemonic aspects of sound. To explore sound as space I created choreographies of the space; the compositions involve actual movements of sound elements across the headspace to investigate the psycho-acoustics of perceived spatiality, its relationship to the physical location of sounds, to the spatial markers that are part of the sounds, and to the type of sound that is played. The compositions also address the evocative and enigmatic nature of space created by hearing through the body, fusing interiority and exteriority in unfamiliar ways. As the second focus, the compositions explore sound as affective medium, one that is particularly relevant in the embodied aspect of hearing bone conducted sound, which can be linked to the earliest sense experiences we have in the womb: the experience of hearing sounds – in particular the mother’s voice – through body contact.
Cinematographer: Kaela Jensen
Model: Laura Pawel