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Aural Architecture


In collaboration with: Jamil Haque and Gelsey Bell.

Format: 1-channel video and joint stereo audio.

Resolution: 2160 x 1080.

Duration: 8 minutes 18 seconds.

Year: 2022.

WARNING: Contains some short scenes and fast transitions.

“Aural Architecture” considers aural experiences originating in the mind communicated through sign language and voice. Those perceptual sonic configurations (aural gestalt) may represent either the real world or human imagination, expressed through multisensory modes and never emerging the same to everyone.

This work challenges two of the biggest misconceptions about deafness and sound: that d/Deaf people live in silence and that only hearing people can access sound. Aurally diverse people embody sound in various ways: sonic, visual, tactile, and imagination. Whatever their divergent nature, aural gestalt may be properties that d/Deaf and hearing people have in common.

“Aural Architecture” is inspired by
2013’s multisensory workshop in Sharjah by architect and designer Jeffrey Mansfield that investigates how “pure” sign language
, which recreates the sensation of sound, allows us to listen visually.


  • The signs and the vocals were recorded separately and did not correspond to each other. The signer did not translate the vocalist’s vocals into the signs. Each of them represents aural experiences/concepts from a list of words/phrases.

  • The signs in this work divert from lexicalized signs (that form words/phrases).

About the collaborators

Jamil Haque is an instructor and teacher of American Sign Language at Sign Language Center in New York City, New York. A Deaf person, he loves meeting new faces and teaching ASL and Deaf cultures.

Gelsey Bell is a Brooklyn-based vocalist, composer, and scholar. She has released multiple albums, toured internationally, and received awards from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Opera America, the Japan Foundation, and others. Her recent works include the soundwalk Cairns and the dance-music work shuffleyamamba. She is currently a resident artist at the HERE Arts Center where she is developing the opera mɔːnɪŋ.

Concept, Composer, Film Editor, and Recording, Mixing, and Mastering Engineer: Jay Afrisando

Signer: Jamil Haque

Vocalist: Gelsey Bell

Project Manager: Terry Perdanawati

Camera Operator: Arif Angga

Camera Assistant: Cahya Haniva

Sign language recorded at Sign Language Center, NYC, NY on 17 December 2021.

Voice recorded at Harvestworks Audio Studio, NYC, NY on 18 December 2021.

Many thanks to gamin, Michael Duffy, and STRUM (Sound, Technology, and Research at the University of Minnesota) Electronic Music Studios.


This project production was supported by the Jerome Foundation through the Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship 2021-22.

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