For my final project I played with ideas of perception, both as a psychological and a physical experience. I created a soundscape of a fish tank and incorporated sounds that would be unique to this habitat (water filter, noises made by the human inhabitants moving around the rest of the house, tapping/banging on the tank’s glass to get the fish’s attention, etc.). I used the concept of acoustic ecology to create a simulation of how the fish may experience and perceive his environment (what he believes to be an isolated apartment unit). I used the analogy of “living in a fishbowl” to project the fish’s paranoia of being constantly watched and his attitude after feeling as though every moment of his life has been observed by some unknown being. I sampled two lead voices to produce this narration; the first is pieces I cut from a short horror story audio clip, and the second is a modification of the first voice. I did this to maintain relative vocal consistency in terms of pace and syntax, but to establish variance in tone/pitch to portray the fish as a paranoid schizophrenic. I created all the other sounds in this piece through a combination of sampling, synthesizing/distortions, recordings of habitual sounds in my house and of my own voice/vocal contributions made by my cat Butters (who also inspired the feline antagonists in the video). I incorporated these noises to help build suspense during the narrative. The “medium is the message” (McLuhan) is a key concept that guided my choice in sound alterations – they are meant to sound distorted and amplified by the water. A deeper meaning I had intended with the use of water to mediate the fish’s experience of his environment has roots in Jungian Psychology. Carl Jung believed water to be symbolic of the unconscious mind during dream states (which is also why I chose to set the narrative late at night while the fish drifts in and out of consciousness).
To accompany the audio piece I created a video to explore some of the key ideas in John Berger’s “Ways of Seeing.” I disguised a distorted impression of Berger’s face (sampled from his BBC video series) during a section of television static to reinforce his theories on hidden ideologies in visual art. I also used theories from another one of his essays “Why We Look at Animals,” which describes the perceived transition animals make from object to subject when human beings are able to lay a narrative over the animal’s story to establish an identity we are able to relate to. Although we did not explore this idea directly in class, the intention I had was to translate the fish’s reactions into thoughts, ideas and imagery that we as humans can recognize and understand (fear, anxiety, annoyance, etc.). The overall theme of the video is meant to support the schizophrenic musings of the goldfish; therefore I choice Victorian asylum imagery/colour modifications and rapid alternations in speed and swimming patterns to develop relationship.