Standing in a long hallway, doors of adjacent rooms open and close. Caught at attention, we perceive sounds and voices as a psychic pressure escaping into the corridor.
Internal ear pressure is constantly regulated against the changing pressure of the world outside. In extreme environments, scuba divers and astronauts actively adjust this pressure as the atmosphere around them changes. Using the Valsalva manœuvre, they close their nasal passages to force open their inner ears to regulate the new pressure. At this moment, the internal sounds of voice and body rush into the ear. In a collapse of spatial awareness, the sounds of inside the body momentarily drown the sounds from without.
A gap between twin pipes allows for a pressure release. The vertically suspended pipes each conceal a small amplified speaker. At this gap, a close-listening zone is created for the controlled perception of distant sounds.
Like a moment in an empty hallway, enclosed in a diver’s helmet or the internal atmosphere of our own body—we are encouraged to give active attention to sound in its relative space and to our own receptivity.
© 2019 Douglas Moffat