Become like a seismograph, capturing the tone and the phrasing of each melody so that, at best, a deaf person could see what you have experienced.
Judith Mason (1938 – )
These words by the prolific South African painter capture the essence of Jenna Burchell’s exhibition Homing, currently showing at Lovell Gallery (Cape Town). The verb homing can be understood as an animal’s ‘return by instinct to its territory after leaving it’. In many ways it is the search for memories from past and present geographical places and situations, but not excluding those of dreams and other imaginary lives. What is important to Burchell is that these memories enable you to go to ‘where you know you belong, feel safe, breathe easily’.
The hand-built interactive installation primarily consists of various copper wires stretched between floor and ceiling space which have been placed in three separate groupings. Each group represents a different geographical space that holds a particular significance for Burchell (Cape Town / Pretoria / Grahamstown). The viewer is invited to participate with the artwork by touching the copper wires, where every individual touch triggers a different sound previously recorded by the artist.
The sensory experience of touching and creating sound is in many ways becoming the seismograph that Mason requests, as each tone and sound bite is captured by way of the viewer’s body. Translation of the sound cannot happen if the viewer’s body does not initiate the process through touch. Without this action there is only silence, discomfort and tension.
For me it was a very powerful experience and layered with hidden meaning. Standing amidst the crystal clear auditory vibrations, I wished that I had a blind friend to introduce to the impact of this installation.
I was grateful for my body that allowed me the sensory translation of this experience.
- Jenna Burchell
- Lovell Gallery
- Judith Mason