Have you ever thought about what sound means to a person who is deaf?

Christine Sun Kim is an artist who creates with sound. The twist? She was born deaf.

In her incredible and transfixing TED Talk, she explains how she interacts with sound in her life and in her work.

Image: Deaf artist using sound with a happy group of participants

Participants in “A Choir of Glances” directed by Christine Sun Kim
Source: School of Art and Art History

This is the kind of TED Talk that leaves you with your mouth hanging slightly agape, and continually thinking to yourself  “I’d never thought about that before!” Without further distraction from me, here is Christine Sun Kim describing the “Enchanting Music of Sign Language.”

Via: TED 1

I wanted to know what it looked like for people to interact with Christine’s work. I found her piece, “Game of Skill 2.0” and wanted to give you a taste of how sound can become something to interact with physically. Here’s what  TED.com has to say about it on their Instagram

In this interactive art exhibit, people listen to an audio track by moving a handheld device along a thin blue pathway. The sound it emits corresponds to the person’s movements, so it takes effort and precision to listen fully. It’s meant to make listening feel unfamiliar.

The most compelling part for me was watching how people became so engaged and worked with the piece in their own way.

Her website was a great resource, but in my digging, I also found this wonderful video by NOWNESS that follows Christine through the artistic process of turning sound into motion and movement:

Via: NOWNESS 3

What I love most about Christine’s work is that it puts into perspective the pervasive presence of sound, and its impact on us. We are not only affected by noise, but also by sound’s vibrations. In cities, sounds are constantly reverberating off from us.  In the country, the rustle of the trees and grass moves through us with the wind.

If you’d like to learn a little more about this whole topic we found a great article about sound art at Rhizome. Take a look at that and you’ll find more about artists who are thought leaders in this direction.

When it comes to art, so very often we want to ask the question “Why does it matter?” And while things don’t always have to “matter,” and we don’t have to always “get” a piece of artwork, we can certainly take away from Christine Sun Kim’s work a sense of wonder with an experience which, for many of us, has been common and life long.

Perhaps if we took just a few minutes a day to listen, and feel the environment around us, to watch and understand where sounds come from, we could become ever so slightly more in tune with our surroundings, and perhaps find ourselves more present where we are.

I’m off to go try some deep listening!

-Liesl
“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”-Victor Borge

Liesl can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV

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Notes:

  1. Sun Kim, Christine. “The Enchanting Music of Sign Language.” TED.com. TED, Aug. 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2015. <http://www.ted.com/talks/christine_sun_kim_the_enchanting_music_of_sign_language#t-484077>.
  2. Sun Kim, Christine. “Game of Skill 2.0.” Vimeo. Christine Sun Kim, 16 Oct. 2015. Web. 13 Dec. 2015. <https://vimeo.com/142659892>.
  3. “”Christine Sun Kim” by Todd Selby.” YouTube. NOWNESS, 9 Nov. 2011. Web. 11 Nov. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqJA0SZm9zI>.

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

COO Ever Widening Circles

Liesl is a camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often floundering—yoga lover. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV