Auditory Communication is an ongoing work that uses instruction as a tool to imply a solution for more effective human conversation when using sound to send and receive information. In other words, it guides us to have a successful dialogue in terms of being understood and being able to understand.
Monika Balu imagined what it is like to be an instruction that we find in the packaging of gadgets, aircraft safety cards and IKEA assembly instructions, and what it is like to be observed this way. Employing herself for the visualisation of the instructive steps, the artist sets a tone that is playful and personal. Portraits are multiplied and resized; they are framed within each step, and combined with a text briefing. A lot of letters disappear in the sentences based on the data from her hearing test results and the ‘speech banana’ (a visual tool which describes where sounds used in everyday human speech sit on an audiogram, forming a banana-like shape). Behind the instruction lies a yellow background with digital hand-drawn bananas in order to emphasise the inspiration from the ‘speech banana’ term.
Due to the artist’s hearing impairment, she perceives sounds differently and often mishears words. Balu is interested in how one sense can be swapped for another; therefore, in this work, she relies on the visual perception in order to convey the aural. Overall, the artist is interested in how hearing impairment can be seen instead of heard.
Monika Balu (b. 1994) is a Lithuanian artist currently pursuing Master’s degree in Photography at Valand Academy in Gothenburg. Her interest spans from food and trash disposal to sound perception and visualisation. In her latest work Balu combines sound and photography in relation to hearing impairment.