Kathi Seemann

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What does listening mean to you?”


Listening means to be attentive, to absorb and acquire strange sounds and relate them to our own rhythm of breathing, heart beating, walking and daily living.

Listening is the counterpart to the view. I can translate a sound into a visual imagination and an image into a sound. Every photograph, painting, written text and typography has an individual rhythm and sound evoked by the content and the visual impression, onomatopoeia. So I do not only listen to sounds but also to my visual environment.

You can listen to yourself, to other peoples' words and to our environment. It's up to you to bring sense to what you hear.

To listen to yourself, the voices, spoken words and catchy songs as the sound of your daily life. There are some melodies or human singing voices which go straight to our heart and stay in our mind for years. 

To listen to your environment, compositions of single sounds, sound samplings, overlapping and carrying one another.

Listening also is the counterpart of conversational speaking. Listening not only means to obey. It enables you to respond, to contradict, using the information you got by listening. It invites you to make up your own opinion based on what you heard. It can make you resist, but still respect the other persons' words.

Soundscapes of daily life and my childhood home got stuck in my memory and accompany me. Listening means to recognize familiar sounds and relate the new ones to the old known ones.



soundscape N°1:

I'm at home, lying on the carpet in the living room, staring at the ceiling. It's a warm summer day and the window is wide open. The cherry tree shakes smoothly it's leaves. Above my head the grandfather clock is clacking, marking every lazy second of the afternoon. A monotonic, cosy rhythm. Two flies are humming underneath the ceiling in a dynamic formation. From the kitchen radio in the background I hear Cesare Siepi performing Don Giovanni.


soundscape N°2:

When I come back to my childhood house, I still sleep in my old room. I changed it a lot, I didn't want to have any visible reminder of my youth in there, so i took down all the posters and postcards. But there is one lovely sound which always reminds me and welcomes me back home, singing me to sleep: The clear squealing of switching trains at night.


soundscape N°3:

Listening to and learning from my dad marked my life a lot. He explained and showed me everything, from maths, biology and physics to english vocabulary and piano playing, from being brave and confident up to the point of refusing his patriarchal opinions. Sitting at the kitchen table or in front of the piano, on our forward run and our way back. To listen, to reenact, to repeat and repeat, to argue, to cry, to learn, to remember.


soundscape N°4: 

I still was lying in bed, calling my parents to get some family vibes. They put me on speakerphone, so I could hear my mother preparing dinner and the kitchen radio was playing these experimental music sounds of the night program. My father was working on my computer via team viewer, tipping and clicking and mumbling into the telephone. I was lying still in the dark room, listening to the soundscape far away from my physical location, but transmitted through the digital channel. I only could see my father's curser moving around, opening and closing windows on the luminous screen of my computer.



Kassel 2016, Kathi Seemann