Sound | Installation | Focus / Refocus (2018)

Focus / Refocus (2018)

site specific sound sculptures, 4’ film with stereo speakers

The screen

The screen when you close your eyes
The screen when you half open your eyes
The screen when you cover your eyes with your hands
The light darken
The screen which you peak through your fingers

Hints. Temporal symbols.
Hints again.
Hints which becomes hinges. 


Focus/Refocus is a set of audiovisual installation continuing Kyrin Chen’s exploration of the temporality of sound in relation to space. It consists of two rooms, which is connected by a glass window that allows visual (but not sonic) transparency from both rooms. In Room 1, four shell-like clay miniature sculptures are displayed on the ground under the dim light. Once for a while, the quick “clicking” sound leaks from the earpods planted in the sculptures, barely audible and noticeable, mixed with other tiny noises in the room. In Room 2, a film with subtitles is presented with stereo speakers, documenting a conversation between a “patient” and a “doctor”. The audience is invited to walk between rooms, where the narratives of the film can be experienced differently due to the existence of subtitles and sound.


Focus/Refocus is about the anxiety of losing senses in the digital era, where screens and noises become inescapable and oversaturated when the eeriness of objects arises because of the gaps in viewer’s knowledge (Fisher, 2016). It is personal since the dominant part of the narrative of the film came from Kyrin Chen’s childhood experience of going to an eyesight improvement training institution. The other parts of the narrative came from the case study report of a psychological research on blind children conducted by Selma Freiberg, published in 1977. The study is an observation of the behaviors of blind children, seekig explanations of the reasoning behind the behaviors. The lack of visual senses forces blind children to develop coping mechanisms in the discontinuous experience of darkness such as “falling into a pathological sleep” when defending against danger. (Freiberg, 1977)

In the film, the “doctor” asked the “patient” to follow a series of absurdly specific instructions of eye exercises, while most of the time the “patient” responded to him in an anxious and skeptical manner. The dialogue in the film engages with this sense of defenselessness and alienation caused by the loss of sensations.

The sound sculptures in Room 1 also explores this theme, influenced by lowercase which focuses on “quiet sounds and silence, so intrusive it can easily be ignored”. In Room 1, the dim lighting provides the audience with a more sonically focused environment. Once the audience notices the sound, the listening experience becomes more attentive and contemplative.