"Make a sound. One time let it be your own, and the next imitate someone else’s”. 24 people and I were given this instruction.
These sounds were different to any other sound I’d made before. They were honest sounds.
“Can I ask you, Brett?” I always ask if I can ask before asking.
“Umm, why is this art?”
“Hah, I get this question a lot”
There was an effort to defend his work, I could tell from his tone. These four words: ‘why’, ‘is’, ‘this’, ‘art’, leaving my mouth in that order, instrumented by my voice, could be expressed and interpreted in a million ways. Through his way of expression, or maybe by my interpretation, I found it easy to imagine all the previous times he’s had to explain himself and justify the question. It was not my intention to doubt his practice or credibility.
Yet, my question still remains:
It’s true, art is a great space for opening a dialogue. Why does a natural thing like this: make a sound (simple as that) has become alien to us; a practice only to be performed under the safe umbrella of the term ‘art’?
Why do we not dare make a sound?
Really, picture yourself.
Any sound you feel.
Now, in a room full of others.
Will it come out weird, will it be embarrassing?
But what is an embarrassing sound?
“It’s just not for me.”
Alex had a nasal voice. We’d already spent a month with each other, which was enough for me to start figuring him out.
“But you haven’t even tried it”
He was also quite shy, so voluntarily putting himself in an uncomfortable position with others seemed unnatural, even pointless, just not for him. Was I not listening?
“I don’t feel like it now
I’ll take part when I want to.”
We often wait— for something ungraspable. We wait for when we’re ready, for some external force of confidence or comfortability in our own skin, more knowledge or experience, less weight, or straighter teeth.
But all of what exists in the unfiltered present is what makes it so exciting, the reason it feels real. People connect with what resonates: alive, feeling creatures— not cold, perfectly carved hollow bodies. The exercise was so rewarding, even liberating, precisely because it was uncomfortable. Full of “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure”, it’s what made us vulnerable. These exercises felt spontaneous, each exploration unique. Like a flame they were unpredictable. The more we gave in to the process, the more we gave to each other. The product of each exercise would manifest itself into something independent from us, escaping our control. It was ours but it also wasn’t... as if this ‘it’ had a life of its own.
We rely too much on words to notice the things left unsaid when words fail us. So what if we took them out of the equation? What does a conversation look like then? What does it feel like? What do the words 'I miss you' or 'I ate an entire egg' feel like on the skin.
Subtract. Abstract. A journey from small talk to honest moments, honest sounds.