There is a dream-like quality, sometimes one of nightmare too, in Platform 4’s Invisible Music, an immersive digital version of the company’s live event exploring hearing loss.
Drawing on the experience of artistic director Catherine Church’s mother, and other members of her lip-reading group, the piece is a sensual delight (make sure you wear headphones for the full effect) that has a strange, almost hallucinatory quality as it navigates a world of hearing impairment.
Stills from the film.
There is a wonderful segment set in a supermarket where the eerie silence becomes magnified, another that recreates the sense of suddenly being adrift in a hearing world as if in a boat. One of the things that Invisible Music does very well is make us think about the act of hearing and cunningly lends the experience of being hearing impaired a visual component. The projections by digital artist Barret Hodgson have captioning embedded in artful ways and often demonstrate how the aural and the visual are allied but also sometimes work against each other.
The experience is meditative and surreal in equal measure, sometimes comic too not least in the way that the questions “would you like a big kiss” and “would you like a biscuit?” can so easily be confused. Invisible Music is very good too at reminding how when you can’t hear, your world becomes more disorientating and far smaller too, leaving the hearing impaired adrift in a sea of guesswork. The exhaustion and frustration are apparent.
As the lockdown relaxes most of us are able to expand our worlds and open them up again. But for those with hearing loss the isolation remains, impossible to escape. Invisible Music invites us into the world of those with hearing impairment, makes us understand the accumulation of losses and for 45 minutes allows us to hear and see differently.
You can watch Platform 4's Invisible Music here.