An exercise in observation:
Sitting at an airport on February 26th, I was waiting for my flight home. Airports are a great place to people watch and I jotted down mini character sketches of clothes and hair styles. I started making a list of all the noises I could hear. Beginning with conversations close to where I was sitting I began to hear layers and layers of noise in a widening circle.
Here’s a list:
conversations: someone on a cell phone, a father talking to son, a mother reading a story to another child; intercom messages to passengers; child crying across the room; cup with ice thrown into the trash; human noises like laughing, sniffing, blowing nose; crumpling of a bag; aluminium crutch pushing on the floor; wheels of a luggage cart; a bell; some machinery, intercom message “Gate 49, Flight ### to Orange County”; and behind all the noise I realized that there was music playing overhead. This exercise of intent listening revealed to me just how much sound I block out. I was hearing sounds from across the room, maybe even from the vent that connected other areas of the airport.
As I focused on the noise it keep getting louder and louder, actually reaching a high pitch frenzy of sound at one point: a cacophony of sounds. The music was the last layer of sound I focused on before the Gate message brought everything back to the here and now.