Public defence in Contemporary Art, MA Heidi Fast
MA Heidi Fast will defend the thesis "Ihmisääni ja virittäytymisen taito. Sanattoman äänellisen kohtaamisen merkitys psyykkistä apua tarvitsevien ihmisten kokemuksissa." on 6 May 2022 at 12:00 in Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Art and Media, in lecture hall D (Y122), Otakaari 1, Espoo, and online in Zoom. The language of the public examination is Finnish.
Opponent: Prof. Leena Rouhiainen, University of the Arts Helsinki, Finland
Custos: Prof. Paula Hohti, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Art and Media
Thesis available for public display at: https://aaltodoc.aalto.fi/doc_public/eonly/riiputus/
Doctoral theses in the School of Arts, Design and Architecture: https://aaltodoc.aalto.fi/handle/123456789/54
The research examines how the human voice can mediate non-verbal interaction and vitalize the experience of existence. The work was conducted in cooperation with HUCH Psychiatry and individuals in need of mental help. While the ability to talk about one’s own experiences is an important part of mental healing, verbal expression often breaks down under distress. Thus it is crucial to investigate how non-verbal social interaction could be supported.
This thesis work brings artistic research into the field of patient care and argues that with vocal attunement – so called “vocal work” – experiences of nonverbal social connection can be created even in the absence of verbal interaction. At the core of the research was a 15-session workshop on vocal work with eight participants and one psychiatric nurse. The research material –comprising audio recordings from the workshop, the participants’ interviews and questionnaires, and feedback from the listeners – was interpreted from the perspective of the interactive nature of the human voice and the promotion of human wellbeing.
The results suggest that vocal work enhances self-knowledge, improves social interaction and helps the people in need of mental support to feel connected to the shared world. These changes become evident in the artistic parts of the research, the series of Hospital Symphonies, as modified tones of the individuals’ voices, synchronization of vocal expressions and as shared silences. The bodily self-awareness enhanced through vocal work, thereby improving verbal sharing of experiences. The listeners’ feedback supported these results.
This research shows that sound art can unravel non-verbal aspects of individual experiences and produce new sensory knowledge, that can be felt and heard, thereby affecting many societal and clinical practices. Beside psychiatric care, the results open a novel work field and show that other persons can be encountered through vocal work without hierarchies and institutional roles. The shared vocal work also increases the understanding of psychiatric professionals about the possibilities to interact with the patients. These methods have not been exploited earlier in mental care and they could help many vulnerable groups. By destabilizing the framework of conventional social interaction and by emphasizing individuals’ vulnerability, the research sheds new light on mental care.