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With a heartfelt nod to the guidance and expertise of advising board member Antoine Hunter, DropLabs has been working closely to keep the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community at the center of its mission to provide inclusive experiences through its patented technology. Thanks to this collective work, and the work of people like Dorothy Allen-Pickard and Antoine Marinot, the conversation surrounding how humans experience music is bringing a deeper awareness to just how multi-sensory and interpersonal sound truly is.
"Making A Sonic Pulse together along with members of the Deaf community in London was quite an incredible experience."
Together, Dorothy and Antoine co-directed A Sonic Pulse, a documentary film exploring how Deaf and Hard of Hearing fans of electronic music find solace in the genre and the community it cultivates. The film's narrative presents a well-rounded overview, highlighting different experiences that showcase both the transcendental and discriminatory aspects of clubbing, while also touching on how the universal nature of music is rooted in the connectivity that comes alive in feeling frequencies.
The film, which was commissioned by Resident Advisor and Open City Documentary Festival, features interviews with three different people, each sharing their perspectives on how they interact with and relate to electronic music, ranging from attending raves to producing their own tunes. As DJ and Deaf Rave founder Troi Lee puts it brilliantly in the film, "It's not about just the music. It's about the society. It's about the gathering. It's about the unity."
In addition to A Sonic Pulse, both Dorothy and Antoine can be found building ever-evolving portfolios, with Dorothy focusing on her work as a filmmaker and Antoine sharing his talents as a multidisciplinary graphic designer. The frequent collaborators took a moment to talk more about their work and what inspires their creative processes with DropLabs, as well as shared more about their work creating A Sonic Pulse.
What do you do for a living and what helped you get started?
Dorothy: I'm a filmmaker with a particular interest in working with non-professional actors to create semi-autobiographical films that merge documentary and fiction. Antoine is a multidisciplinary Graphic Designer from France, based in London. His interest in art began with graffiti, which opened up the world of typography and colour – two elements that are still at the centre of his practice.
What is your favorite accomplishment or a project that you're really proud of?
Dorothy: Making A Sonic Pulse together along with members of the Deaf community in London was quite an incredible experience. We're both so grateful to have been given the opportunity to make this work and immerse ourselves in a new group of people who really know how to party.
What inspired or led you to further explore the subject of how the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community experiences electronic music?
Antoine: We both listen to a lot of electronic music in and outside of club environments, and because of my partial Deafness (and the prospect of losing my hearing completely), I am increasingly aware of issues relating to Deafness. I remember seeing an installation at the V&A called Tonotopia: Listening through Cochlear Implants that really peaked my interest in the subject. There was one testimony from a woman who had completely lost her hearing at a music festival after her Cochlear Implants faulted, leading to her experiencing the music in a very different way. The conversations we had while making this film have infinitely expanded our interest in the subject and reframed our conceptual understanding of how we all experience sound, music and vibrations.
What would you say was the most rewarding part of working on A Sonic Pulse?
Antoine: I've always gone to clubs and listened to dance music, both before and after losing hearing in my left ear. Before making this documentary, I'd never really questioned or processed how my experience of feeling music in a club environment has changed. Because I can still hear music very clearly, my focus is more on hearing rather than feeling. After making this film I've already changed my approach to experiencing music. Richard France phrases it well when he says music shouldn't be defined by hearing people because it's about feeling vibrations and frequencies, and when people feel them they have a different sensual experience compared to if they hear them. We need to take onboard what people with experience of hearing loss and deafness have to teach us about sound and the physicality of music, as their perspective is often overlooked, but can provide the most insight.
What do you do to get into your creative zone?
Dorothy: Quite often I’ve found myself drawn to making films about my friends and family, both in documentaries and fictional works. I want to tell stories about subjects I know and understand well, so it makes sense to start with the people I know. A lot of their experiences are really powerful when seen on screen--whether it’s experiencing bipolar, converting to religion, or living with a physical disability--it’s issues that are relatable for a wider audience, yet they’re often absent from our screens. And there’s a trust and an openness that has come from years of friendship, which makes for a more complex and interesting film.
When it comes to evolving an idea into film form, there isn’t really a particular model or process that I follow. Sometimes I do lots of preparation before a shoot and other times I just turn up, have a quick chat with the subject and get straight to filming. When tackling hard hitting subjects like mental health or disability, I think it demands an unflinching eye. I’m not really interested in watching contrived emotional outbursts or euphemistic sterilised representations of real life, as there’s enough of that in mainstream cinema. We might as well get to the point with what we’re trying to say!
What are you currently working on or are aiming to accomplish in 2020?
Dorothy: I'm currently working on a short film that's a calling card for a feature about a butcher with OCD. It's set in a washed-up coastal town in Kent, and the protagonist becomes convinced his ex is trying to stop him from seeing his favourite companion, his 11-year-old daughter. When he finds himself enmeshed in a local men’s group, pressure mounts and he decides to take things into his own hands.
As innovators by design, the team behind DropLabs Technology™ is dedicated to supporting and elevating members of the creative community. Together, we aim to serve as a platform highlighting different creators as they work towards achieving visionary excellence and inspiring others along their path. To nominate a creative leader you’d like to see highlighted on our website, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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