“The work produced is extraordinary- you should be very proud. It really feels like the beginning of a very special journey- and an area that really need exploring more. I do think you are also making art form accessible for mainstream audience as well as the Deaf community- Classical Music and art often seem impenetrable for many people and you showed real insight”. Lucy Dunkerley, Associate Director, Border Crossings – Central London (Patron: Peter Sellars).
Exhibition notes for Arlington Arts Centre 14th January 2017
Audiovisability is a ‘visual music’ art form created by myself, a professional musician with profound hearing loss. It is a unique project that draws together music and deafness through the expertise and individual experiences of a number of hearing and Deaf professionals.
This project involves 16 British Deaf artists across a number of disciplines including photography, sculpting, acting, textiles, and musical composition. It leads the spectator through a thoughtful and deeply integrated arts experience, portraying music in a visually compelling and refreshingly humanistic way.
The name ‘Audiovisability’ is derived from three separate words: ‘audio’ (sound/music), ‘vision’, and ‘ability’. Generally, society perceives Deaf people as having an ‘audio disability’; however, Audiovisability highlights that Deaf people are able to listen to, appreciate, and interpret music, particularly through its inherently visual nature.
The exhibition turns conventional understanding of music on its head; the focus is not on sound, but on music’s real and interpreted visual nature. The exhibition is broken up into a number of standalone projects, each isolating and interpreting one particular element of music. Each project also features a different technique or discipline to complement the topic at hand. For example, sculpting, as seen in Harmony I, can bring musical texture to life, whilst painting, such as that from Dynamics I and Dynamics II, can illustrate tonal colour and rhythmic pattern.
Also featured in the exhibition are new and extended elements of music – most notably, the integration of Deaf Culture and its language (British Sign Language (BSL)) with the musical world. Like music, BSL has repetition, rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, and metre. They can both be fluid or detached and loud or quiet, and both feature physical placement. Just like spoken language, I believe that visual language can enhance the musical experience. BSL can be seen throughout the exhibition, particularly in Composition I – of the Amsden’s Yorkshire Suite by Danny Lane which injects society’s attitudes to deafness, and Composition II ‘The Twilight Thief’ by 11 year old Layla, and ‘Interpretation I’ Score for BSL, flute and voice by Deaf television and stage actress, Sophie Stone.
Added to the exhibition are pieces of work by students at Mary Hare School. These are the outcome of Audioviability’s educational workshops held at the school in November 2016. During the workshops, the students explored the ways in which music is a visual as well as auditory art form, including how it can portray emotion, colour, or even tell a story.
Beyond isolating and illustrating the individual elements of music, Audiovisability brings a sense of individuality to the viewer, challenging their own perceptions. Each work of art is truly unique, combining the project itself with the artist’s own perceptions, ideas, and life experiences. Audiovisability highlights the huge level of diversity in the Deaf world by bringing together different levels of hearing loss, two different languages (spoken and visual), and a range of art disciplines. Finally, it highlights that deaf people have the ability to not only hear music, but to appreciate, interpret, and love it.
Full information in WWW.AUDIOVISABILITY.COM
OMEIMA MUDAWI-ROWLINGS – a passionate fusion of cultures. Omeima worked with Ruth Montgomery on ‘Structures’ in music.
With Mozart for flute and string quartet in D major KV285, – Omeima’s textiles clearly recognises the A-B-A section which is typically known as the ternary forms in music. She made it clear that orange is the ‘A’ section and ‘B’ is the green section, and the orange (A) returns again. The shapes and patterns are the themes and motifs that kept on returning in Mozart’s music.. The stunning works are resulted in fabric silk.
FILM EXPRESSION I: Mozart’s music for flute and strings KV285 was also performed live to professional Deaf artist Rubbena Aurangzeb-Tarqi and Lisa Harker – who is a hearing artist. I wanted to explore the differences in the responses if you are deaf and hearing. I have learned in the process that the arts is an individual subject and the responses are solely unique, yet faithful.
EXPRESSION II/STRUCTURES II:
MAGIC OF THE EAST: BY WASEEM KOTOUB, a contemporary Arabic score for flute and strings
I wanted to see how classical music and contemporary music differ in visual terms. I was fortunate that Waseem Kotoub of the British Council in Qatar, also a professional pianist, musician and composer himself wrote ‘Magic of the East’ for flute and string quartet. Upon playing and analysing the music, Waseem’s use of traditional ideas changes 5 times throughout the piece. This is clearly reflected in Omeima’s textiles, and she has incorporated traditional Arabic designs and calligraphy in her work.