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notes on listening
and an invitation
Hello, welcome to the fourth digest from the Forest Portal 🌱
A place for sharing occasional updates and musings on the growing project ‘Conversations with the Forest’.
In today's conversation, I wanted to share some notes on listening. How many ways can we listen? How can we listen better? How can we listen differently?
16 different ways to listen, a list:
listen with your ears - sit still, take a breath, as you breathe in, imagine you are breathing out, see what you can hear when you stop for a moment.
listen with your eyes - look around you, look at your clothes, at the plants, at the sky, what sounds do different colours make for you? here you can play with how Kandinsky heard colour and here you can listen to my take on the ‘sound of blue’.
listen with your nose - find some different scents around your home, coffee or tea, a wooden bench, leather, a herb plant, your soap, what do the smells sound like? Are they high notes, low notes, squeaky, or soft?
listen with your finger tips - go outside, find a tree, touch the bark, track the changes of texture, what does the texture sound like?
listen with your tongue - cook your favourite meal, focus closely while you cook. What sound does the knife make as it slices through different vegetables? What sound does the water make as it boils the noodles? As you taste the meal what do you hear? How does sound affect your taste?
listen like an onion - begin with your inner sounds, a thought, your stomachs rumble, a breath as it fills your lungs, slowly move out in layers, what can you hear next to you? What can you hear in a 3 metre radius? What can you hear further and further and further and further away? See how far you can extend your ether of sound.
listen without discrimination - try not to favour any of the sounds you can hear. Whatever sounds come in, take them in equally, let the cacophony of your environment enter your inner sanctum.
listen with your whole body - lie on the ground, block your ears, see what vibrations you can feel, let your body soften to the earth, surrender.
Listen with signs
listen for worms - watch a magpie, as it turns its head to the ground, it’s listening for worms, you might notice it peck the ground with precision, pulling a worm from the depths. A lesson in how to listen for your lunch.
listen to leaves - stand on the coast, near the sea, see if you can hear the shhhh of she-oak in the wind.
listen at dawn - wake up early, before the birds, sit still and wait.
listen underwater - let yourself sink to the bottom of the creek, see what you can hear. Try hitting two rocks together, listen to how sound travels through water.
listen in the dark - go for a walk with a friend in the dark, listen to the night.
listen at dusk - as the bats fly over, imagine the cacophony of ultrasonic beams bouncing through the air. The volumes that some bats can produce can get up to the sound of a jet engine, luckily it’s at a hertz above our range. Imagine all of the sounds we cannot hear.
listen like a tree - stand outdoors, close your eyes, bend your knees, imagine tap roots coming from four points on each foot, open your hands forward, let the breeze sway your fingertips, imagine the roots going deeper into the earth, listen for microbes, worms and mycelium as they attach to your roots. Feel for the vibrations of water particles flowing below you.
Today the 7th May - I am sharing a new work ‘Remembering Forward’, part of exhibition ‘Devil’s Ivy’ curated by Sarah Thomson at Metro Arts. I am looking forward to sharing some of the research I have been doing for ‘Conversations with the Forest’, from the perspective of the West End site. If you are in Meanjin today the exhibition opening is 4-6pm or alternatively the show is on until 4th June.
Other featured artists are: Jordan Azcune, Christopher Bassi, Jo Grant, Sophie Penkethman-Young, and Kai Wasikowski.
The Conversations with the Forest Studio at 10 Beach Rd, Surfers Paradise, is open by appointment - shoot me an email reply or instagram.
In process this week:
📖 Reading: Underland: A Deep Time Journey, Robert Mcfarlane
👂 Listening: When the earth started to sing
🌱 Propagating: Beach Birds eye, Hard Quondong.
❓ Asking: what memories do seeds hold?