A remarkable multi-sensory exhibition by internationally acclaimed artist Juan DelGado will give visitors the chance to experience at first hand the condition of tinnitus, where the person experiences a constant internal noise that often blanks out the external world.
The ‘Ringing Forest’ can be viewed at the Studio Gallery at Belfast Exposed as part of this year’s Bounce! Arts Festival.
The exhibition, which is launched at 5pm on Thursday and runs until Sunday, is a multi-media installation, exploring the sounds of the forest while simulating the auditory experience of tinnitus.
DelGado explains the purpose of the exhibition: “In the project The Ringing Forest I explore the forest environment through the lens of my personal auditory experience, investigate the phenomenological perception of sound and movement and develop an integrated piece that challenges viewers to shift their perspective. Effectively disabling the audience in a subversive act of artistic sabotage, the work questions the notion of the natural world.”
During his research for this challenging exhibition, the artist developed the concept of ‘Green Noise’ which represents the juncture between the external and internal sound of the forest.
It refers to the sound generated by the movement of tree trunks, leaves, wind and other natural phenomena in the forest as well as the intensely personal sound of tinnitus a physical condition resulting in permanent internal ‘noise’ (and therefore, a hearing impairment) created inside the artist head and audible only to him.
This internal sound, described as the continuous crushing of glass, at times masks all external sounds, creating a barrier between the artist and the assumed world outside and rendering the sense of hearing irrelevant for an attempted objective reading of what we perceive as reality.
Ringing Forest consists of a floor projected circular moving image and sound piece and a set of photographs, accompanied by individual soundtracks.
Created in a lab, the artificial digital sounds imitate and simulate the auditory sensation of tinnitus as experienced by the artist.
The moving image piece is projected directly onto the floor, breaking down the barriers between exhibit and spectator, hinting to a possibility of a walk in the wood. It features fragmented and overlaid images of the forest, focusing on the minute details of leaves, bark and flowers. With minimal camera movement and no obvious narrative, it invites visitors to get immersed in the intimate life of the forest.
However, the natural sounds generated by the wind are masked by the artificial tinnitus sounds. Fading in and out, the jarring noise is at times so prevalent that it completely drowns the original forest sounds, making the experience overwhelming and uncomfortable. The lack of obvious narrative means that audiences are left to use only their senses to experience the piece, much as the artist experienced the forest in the creation of the work.
The set of photographs give another fragmented experience. Each image, dimly lit from above by a single bulb, show a snapshot of the forest which the viewer has to piece together in the darkened gallery space. The large photographs are accompanied by soundtracks fed through headphones, consisting of a direct description of the image similar to the audio description provided in some galleries for visually impaired visitors.
The description, read by the artist, is again masked by the synthetic digital sound created to simulate tinnitus. With gradual intensity, the description becomes less and less legible.
Juan Delgado’s, ‘The Ringing Forest’ can be seen at the Studio Gallery, Belfast Exposed. Exhibition launch is from 5pm-6pm,Thursday 25 August.
Then Friday 26 to Sunday 28 August 11am-4pm. For more information about the artist visit www.juandelgado.co
The fifth Bounce! Disability and Deaf Arts Festival boasts a varied programme of theatre, contemporary dance, live music, performance poetry, visual arts and street circus from leading disabled artists from Britain, Ireland and beyond.
Bounce! has been funded this year by Belfast City Council, the Arts Council and Unlimited Impact.
Fionnuala Walsh, Head of Participatory Arts, said “Bounce! is a wonderful arts festival which celebrates quality work by artists from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the UK, who are deaf or disabled. There are many ways to get involved with poetry, theatre, dance and free workshops all on offer. I would encourage everyone to go along and enjoy this terrific festival.”