It has a dreamy quality: disorientating and strange. Jane Baker’s sound piece ‘Echo Part 1 – A Neurological Soundscape‘ is a thing of beauty, and I was lucky enough to hear it during my visit to Hobart. An intimate twenty-minute recording, it was originally produced for small audiences who wore headphones. It explores the disjointed and isolating experience of living with dementia.
While audiences usually enter a carefully curated space, with visual effects, Jane offered me a more modest experience in her office, through a laptop!
The piece is based on the daily routine of an aged care facility and the inner world of memories. It’s like living within a story. And wow, it’s emotional. You as the listener become a central character with dementia, experiencing the world around her in sounds, unsure and unclear, piecing together the voices and the noises and the dreams of the past.
What’s interesting for me about Jane’s work is how she builds a story through sound and technology. Jane worked in aged care for years. She recalled one resident saying his dementia was ‘not as if I’ve forgotten everything, but a part has gone missing.’ She used this idea in the making of the sound piece: taking out slivers of sound to unsettle the listener.
I’m viewing Jane’s work through the lens of literature, because to me she has created an immersive fiction, inviting people to enter. The auditory elements of a story opens up possibilities of sharing something of the lives of those who might otherwise not be able to express the experience.
Jane is brilliant. You should look up her work. Currently she’s developing projects which explore the benefits of introducing virtual soundscapes to people with dementia.