Heather Ross: All The Better To Hear You With at Hatton Gallery


This installation emerged from Ross's 2014-17 project entitled On Being Out of Touch which explored the gaps between information, knowledge and experience, specifically considered in relation to learning about the birds. In All The Better To Hear You With Ross combines these concerns with her research into Kurt Schwitters' experimental approaches to the written and spoken word, exploring the discrepancies between how words are read, perceived, stored in memory and processed internally and orally. Literary works by Schwitters which include: the UrsonataAnna BlumeConsistent Poetry, Language and typography and orthography: small letters, affirm the agency of the individual to critique conventional linguistic structures and to explore letters, words and sounds as audio-visual material to be re-thought. The discrepancies between how sound is written, perceived or committed to memory are particularly pertinent when processing bird call, where written accounts act as placeholders of experience, awaiting activation.

In All The Better To Hear You With Ross's aims to re-interpret written descriptions of bird call as printed gestures of sound making; encouraging the individual to activate and interpret sound through  play, decoding and transcribing the words as a performative act. Presented on mobile units, the printed gestures of sound will change throughout the exhibition to enact twelve different verbal notations. These sounds have further been transcribed as a set of twelve printed sound poems, type-set using Alban Davis' press and printed during Ross' residency at the rural 'Merz Barn' site in 2017. Included in the exhibition is archival material belonging to the late Gwyneth Alban Davis and supporting texts by Kurt Schwitters and Stefan Themerson. This exhibition forms part of Ross's ongoing practice based PhD investigation into Kurt Schwitters Merz Barn Relief Wall, situated in the Hatton Gallery.

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