Some thoughts on the power of noise

After the performance of Angie Seah at Palais de Tokyo

"Creation and communication are of very different domains... and I wonder if one does not contaminate the other?" Philippe Delaunay

We did not notice when Angie Seah began her performance in front of Henrique Oliveira’s work at Palais de Tokyo, March 28, 2015. She started by standing in front of a white wall, motionless and silent. Suddenly she shouted. It took few seconds to realise that it was not an explosion of a siren or an earthquake. It was really a human being screaming, a life disguising in a performance. A sharp scream expresses an indefinable emotion. Then she continued to produce some murmurs with all sorts of decibels, less acute but colorful and rich in life experiences. I submerged in that white noise, a soup of chaos, disorder, a passage from order to disorder, a source of creativity. Angie created noise that we often try to master, because we assume it prevents us from communicating. Yet screaming and murmuring is also a form of communication, a language at a primary level.

Sitting on the floor, I let her guiding me to travel through her world rich on acoustic waves. She appropriated the space and polluted it. Like a nightingale that sings to mark its nest. I felt she screamed for me and for others who do not scream. Those who have the habit of apologizing for not screaming and continue bearing the (mis)understanding of our parents, our siblings, the painful history, war, famine, injustice, lies, power, the adult’s neurosis ...
A few days later, during our short lunch near to the place I work in Paris, she explained that making noise is a sacred act.

At childhood in Indonesia, through some village women who raised me, I learned to listen to the sound of the Earth. They taught me to listen to the trees, the wind, the rice field, as well as the stones. Later, as an adult, I lived in Singapore and observed the festivals for the dead once a year, with a procession of monks producing noise. As if they tried creating a tunnel to allow us to listen to the sound from elsewhere, the sound comes out from the Earth.

Will we be able to listen to the world’s noise today?
Or can we only listen to the noise of machines, music, politician’s speech, siren, computer’s keyboard, a murmur of a concrete wall?
Will we be able to make a link between creation and communication?
Will we be able to listen to the world’s cry for help?

Angie Seah au Palais de Tokyo