A refreshing aspect about going on holiday is the way in which our senses are sharpened. We become aware of the changes in landscapes, the smells of regional food, and the new sounds that surround us. But how long does our sense of wonder last?
On a recent trip to Hobart the first sound of interest was heard within the hotel elevator. Coming from an area of predominantly natural sounds the electrical buzz contained inside this small space was refreshing, yet in less than a few days it had merged into the background ambience. Its rapid relegation into insignificance may be a personal flaw, yet a casual glance at our consumer culture reveals that this reaction to the new is not unique.
This experience was repeated during a visit to Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art. Visitors to the ground level of this museum are struck by the sound of water crisply shooting from Julius Popp’s installation bit.fall. The installation projects commonly used words from news media onto falling water. It was described by the artist as a metaphor for the incessant flood of information we are exposed to. Ironically the sound from this installation soon became part of the deluge it was critiquing, the lure of the new around each corner of the museum overwhelming the wonder of its initial impression.
Being conscious of this shortcoming raised some questions regarding our inability to retain an appreciation towards the familiar. At which point does an experience begin to lose its worth? Which aspects of our surroundings go unnoticed because they are no longer part of the new? I returned from the holiday with a renewed focus upon my local environment, trying to hear it again with fresh ears.