Speaker for the deaf

winners of the student design challenge give a voice to the North Sea

North Sea case: underwater noise

Tjesse Riemersma, Artificial Intelligence & Philosophy (graduated August 2019);Jesse Havinga, Philosophy & Education  (graduated in 2017); Jos Spijkerman, Philosophy, RUG; Marieke Druiven, Philosophy, RUG; Marina Sulima, Illustration & animation, Minerva Academy; Leah van Oorschot, American Studies & Artificial Intelligence, Radboud University Nijmegen; Olivia D’cruz, Minerva Academy; Florida Visser, Biomedical Technology and Philosophy, Water Management, TU Delft & Hugo Heinen, Master Philosophy and Society, pre-master Social Geography, RUG

In eulogies pertaining to humans, how much do we talk about sounds? How often are sounds the ‘stuff of significant events’? We have every reason to believe that this is very different for sea creatures. Speaker for the Deaf pays tribute to the ‘sound-stories’ of five North Sea species. Two current inhabitants, two former, and one imagined.

Since 2018 De Ambassade van de Noordzee concerns itself with the politics of underwater sounds. How should underwater sound be represented? How can we construct ways of imagining and making visible the experience of the underwaterland/soundscape? This installation is an audiovisual and literary attempt to add to these questions by addressing two related concerns.

Firstly, the installation expands the notion of ‘the experience of underwater sounds’ into the multiple: how do different forms of life experience underwater sounds and how different are these differences? Speaker for the Deaf explores the equivocation of sound. It tries to sensitize the viewer to the radical alterity of underwater experiences often hidden by a concept of sound construed as a matter of decibels and frequencies.

Secondly, and following from the first question, Speaker for the deaf gives the representation of sound a much needed injection of Actor-Network Theory. Instead of primarily focussing on scientific measures of sound and then asking the question of how these can be translated into different forms, the installation makes clear that it would be better to focus on representing the effects of ‘sound’. This amounts to claiming that the problem of (the representation of) the effects of sound is broader than that of the representation of measurements of sound by scientific instruments. Instead, we could imagine that many different people, professions and organizations than those directly engaged with sound recording could contribute to this representational work.