Something that deeply resonated with me from lectures was the concept of noise bleaching in our oceans. I’ve always imagined these large bodies of water to be an ecosystem thriving in silence. When I jump into a pool, I am instantly muffled from the bustling that occurs above water level. I derived great joy from the brief escapism, so for as long as I could long my breath, I would swim along the pool floor.
In a sense though, I was just ignorant to the noises that permeated the waters, to the frequencies that played in a range beyond my limited audio capacity of 20 Hz to 20 kHz (Purves et al. 2001). Sadly, although I can simply ignore the sound waves swimming through the pool water alongside me, the organisms that live in the ocean cannot ignore the noises that are destroying their habitat. Ironically, while I get to jump into water to escape the cacophony of industrialization -- of the cars honking and the machines buzzing, the deep sea life is unable to escape acoustic bombardment as cargo ships travel from nation to nation in the name of industrialization and globalization. Worse, the firing of seismic air guns, used to locate oil and gas sources in the ocean, produce a sound that is approximately 7 times louder than that of moving cargo ships (Schiffman et al. 2016).
I wanted to capture the notion of being unaware of the sounds around me and then of breaking this unconscious silence, symbolic of my reckoning with noise bleaching in the oceans. As a result, I recorded the last sounds I heard as I went to bed, followed by a period of (unconscious) silence marking my slumber, and ended with the sounds that I first hear when I wake up -- the sounds which break my unconscious silence.
At night, as I pull my warm comforter over me, I put in my AirPods and play the “Goodnight” audio from Headspace, a phone app that assists in mindfulness practices. “Welcome to this goodnight sleep exercise…” plays in my ears. I listen along and with each breathing exercise, I fall deeper and deeper into a restful sleep.
A silent sleep. Or at least, a sleep that is silent to me.
As I begin to drowsily wake up in the morning, I am greeted with the sounds of the classic Twinkle alarm ringing from the iPhone. Because I’m a deep sleeper (apologies to my roommate), I rarely wake up to the sound of my alarm. As a result, I am often greeted with the voice of my roommate hurrying me to turn off my alarm. Begrudgingly, I hit the “Stop” button and roll myself out of bed. In the bathroom, I splash my face with water and begin my 7 step Korean skincare routine. While the refreshing feel of water against my skin begins to gradually wash off the drowsiness of my good sleep, I’m much too impatient to wait. Therefore, I place my AirPods back in and put on my favorite song, arousing my brain with vocal harmony. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with the cover of “Cloud 9” by Paravi Das.
When I finish my skincare routine, I walk down the hallway into the kitchen, eager to consume a quick and warm breakfast. The distinct clomping of my house flippers against the hardwood floor has been described by my apartment mates as “emphatic” and even “annoying.” Regardless, my footsteps ring clear even in the audio recordings (apologies to the downstairs neighbors).
Since my apartment has a sensitive fire alarm, we always have to turn on the exhaust whenever we cook. In the mornings, an egg omelet, some toast, and most importantly, a full cup of coffee is enough to keep me content. To start my morning off right, I squirt a Sriracha smiley face on my omelet. Yum :)
Link to sounds: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mOU446hNc6DDqAguKECZcuMtZ2wD-Q1K/view?usp=sharing
Purves D, Augustine GJ, Fitzpatrick D, et al., editors. Neuroscience. 2nd edition. Sunderland (MA): Sinauer Associates; 2001. The Audible Spectrum. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK10924/
Richard Schiffman et al. “How Ocean Noise Pollution Wreaks Havoc on Marine Life.” Yale E360, e360.yale.edu/features/how_ocean_noise_pollution_wreaks_havoc_on_marine_life.