Sounds protected

In our collaboration, Jen and I have been considering ways that garments are used to protect the body. The combination of our two materials - metal and fabric - is often seen in armour or in ceremonial wear.


The COVID-19 pandemic has given the idea of protection a different set of resonances. In just a few short months the face mask has become a new cultural icon, and the smell of hand sanitiser is everywhere. I always find water a source of inspiration, and during lockdown I started to listen to the sounds nearest to home. Nearest of all was the sound of me washing my own hands: the protective act which has taken on a new and vital importance.


Thanks to Aural Textile participants Olive and Isabelle, who kindly shared their hand-washing recordings as well, I have been able to combine and compare our soundtracks. I've been struck by the differences when these sounds are visualised.

The snippets shown in the spectrograms above are five seconds long.

The snippets shown in the waveforms are only one hundredth of a second. If I zoom into the spectrogram to the same extent, the effect of the colour changes is transformed.

The fact that our individual hand-washing patterns are so distinct is ideal for creating a multi-layered weave, so that will be my next exploration.

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