Samantha Blackburn’s highlight of the Bounce Festival produced by Arts & Disability Forum in Belfast was the sonic arts piece ‘Reassembled… Slightly Askew’ by Shannon Yee. Designed for a limited audience of four people per show, and described by The Stage as ‘a daring, disorientating artistic collaboration’, the piece was shown at the Lyric Theatre from 3-6 September.
Participants start their journey by being ‘admitted’ into a re-created hospital ward and invited to lie in a bed, wear an eye mask and headphones to fully appreciate the deeply personal, moving and breath-taking sound narrative created by Shannon Yee and a team of directors, artists, and producers.
The fifty minute piece draws listeners deep into Yee’s experience of a near-death medical emergency – a rare brain infection which resulted in traumatic surgery, euphoric after-surgery delusions and a difficult, lengthy emotional journey of rehabilitation.
The narrative draws listeners into the heart of Yee’s experience right from the moment of the shocking impact of the infection, the constant, soothing supporting words of Grainne, the artist’s partner, and the series of sobering medical prognoses from the team of experts based at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast who supported Yee’s recovery.
The accompanying sonic compositions imaginatively conceptualise the artist’s perception of the many challenges resulting from her acquired brain injury, including coping with increased anxiety levels, sensitivity to noise and busy environments.
The listener experiences the sonic piece in perceived ‘three dimensional’ sound which seems to radiate around your head and originate from spaces around the surrounding room thanks to the use of ‘binaural’ microphone technology; the piece was recorded at the sonic arts research centre, Queens University, Belfast.
Reassembled… Slightly Askew has received support from both arts and medical science funders – the resulting sonic arts piece is successful in both creating a powerful artistic experience and as an immersive educational tool for medical staff working with head injury patients: listening to Yee’s experience enables a significant empathetic understanding of the traumatic experience of head injury which could not be otherwise articulated so effectively creating a deep-seated and lasting impact.
For more information on Reassembled… Slightly Askew, see: www.shannonyee.wordpress.com