10: Exegetical writing / turning points / health

This semester has been a challenge. My research has been blindsided by some big personal issues and poor health. When things fall apart it becomes increasingly difficult to work, to think and to create. I’ve considered taking a leave of absence from this course numerous times, I’ve felt like I’m cracking, frayed around the edges, without the resilience to go forward and push through this difficult time with study on the top of everything else. I take my work seriously and I want to do well. 

Sitting down to write about my process has been a major challenge for me as this work is personal, therefore the process is personal and requires reflection. Reflecting in a personal way in an academic context isn’t exactly appropriate, but I’m unsure how to get around this huge cloud that has been ever present for me this semester. To not include it in this work in some way would not make sense, as the cloud has demanded much of my energy. 

I was chatting to a friend about this the other day, about the struggle to get on with things and finish this course, and she suggested that I might need to come at the writing from another angle. Maybe just get a whole lot of ‘crap’ out then I’ll be able to get to the good words. So that’s what I am attempting to do here. 

When I sit down to reflect on the past year, to look at where my research has gone, and where it is at now it’s difficult to mark clear points where things changed or progressed. Turning points are key to writing this chapter. If I needed to point out 5 markers I would say: 

1. Trial presentation one, the movement from the visual to the aural

2. Blue - experimenting with collaboration, finding this a restrictive way to work. Loss of creative control over the materials I’m using. Good to experiment with great restrictions on the work, but finding this idea does not offer the depth of sounds I would like to work with. There could be ways to re-think this piece and break it open some more. But I’m not sure that now is the time to do this. 

3. South Africa: here public art and collaboration met within the research which opened things up tremendously. Experimenting with new technology and making sound works with 100% control of material reminded me that the sounds are the most important thing, the situation in which they are listened to is the second most important thing, but not secondary. This leads straight into my final presentation and acted as a really good trial for how things sound under water and how the speakers work etc. 

4. PORTAL: making sound art for galleries. With keeping the underwater listening going, I needed to develop a work that could be transferred to a gallery situation. This has also formed my trial presentation. A sonic portal of sounds that I recorded in South Africa. 

5. Gallery vs Public install. Towards the end of semester I was faced with making a big decision on which direction I would take the work for the final install. I had to choose between further developing Hydro-Static or doing a public underwater sound installation at the City Baths in Melbourne. There were arguments for both outcomes, but in the end I think it’s important to develop the work that is most exciting to me and that is presenting the pubic work at the city baths. Hydro-Static is a great way to bring this form of listening into the gallery context, but the public install is the optimum way for this work to be experiences. To be fully immersed in water, to experience the sound all around is the most exciting part of the underwater sound installation for me. For the participants to experience weightlessness while listening to my sound is key to honing in the listening experience and focussing people on what they are listening to.