This article explores the idea of resonant listening in relation to aging and memory loss. Resonance is put into conversation with three pieces of sound art created by or with older adults grappling with changes in memory. The first two works discussed, Sounds of Forgetting and Turning, were created from recordings of conversations between one of the authors, Aynsley Moorhouse, and her father, Dr. John Moorhouse. The third composition, Fried Brains, is a two-minute piece created by Louise Jacks and Enid Anderson, two older women. Shifting away from narratives that reduce aging and memory changes to a series of tragic losses from a golden time in one’s life, these three works assert the value of ongoing expressive capacity and collaboration. They point to the ways in which, through sound, we may gradually learn to destigmatize dementia and changes in memory to create connections between neurotypical and neurologically atypical people.
At the Edges of Meaning: Aging, Memory, and Resonant Listening
kim sawchuk is a Professor in Communication Studies and the Director of Ageing Communication Technologies: experiencing a digital world in later life. This project is funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The author thanks SSHRC for their support of this research (grant 865-2013-1018).
aynsley moorhouse is an artist and social worker at the Alzheimer Society of Toronto. Her particular interest lies in the benefits of arts engagement for older adults and people living with dementia, and her work on this subject has been presented internationally at hospitals, academic conferences, and arts festivals.