Emma Griffiths (UK)

Location: Plaza between Kingsgate Bridge and Dunelm House

“My relationship to language combined with my hearing loss is an interesting one to explore.” – Emma Griffiths

Multi-media artist Emma Griffiths will present an artwork centred around her recent hearing-loss diagnosis and how she experiences a typical conversation. Presented in a broken-up layered format, the three-dimensional work must be viewed from all angles in order to make sense of the words. It visually describes the list of possibilities the artist’s brain goes through to understand what is being said.

“Hearing is a completely personal experience and I’ve always struggled to explain what it’s like in conversations. No one can compare what your hearing is like, and deafness is a very diverse spectrum. 

Language is powerful, words are powerful, my relationship to language combined with my hearing loss is an interesting one to explore and I’m enjoying turning it into a shared educational experience.  

I was with someone when they said ‘I am ecstatic right now’, but I just heard noise. My brain was going through the possibilities of what they said and I decided to make a list of what my brain came up with. I thought this would be useful to share with my friends and family so they could see what I mean when I say I struggle to understand speech despite being able to ‘hear’ them.  

The list of what I heard (or misheard) was quite long, and my first explorations of this work included them all. Now it has been revised, and the final work is narrowed down to the sentences ‘I have a tactic right now’, and ‘I am in the attic right now’ overlapping ‘I am ecstatic right now’ (which was actually said). My brain went through each one matching it with the context of the situation, and then I thought of ‘I am ecstatic right now’ which matched the moment and the energy my friend had. I got it right, but before that, there were many possibilities of what they said. To me, they still exist as what I ‘heard’.”

About Emma Griffiths

Emma Griffiths is a London-based, multimedia artist, originally from a small working-class town, Ellesmere Port, in North West England. Emma’s work often expresses a feeling, enacts an experience, or shares a message, which are vital purposes of her work. She became strongly connected to art during her childhood. The current focus of Emma’s work is centred around her recent hearing loss diagnosis and reflecting on the denial she has always had. By exploring her relationship with hearing loss, she is being a self-advocate of her diagnosis through art.

Credit: Emma Can See Monsters 

Image credit: I Am Ecstatic Right Now (rendering), Emma Griffiths, 2023


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