by Priyanka, an aerospace researcher and artist based in Toulouse.
Her work can be found here.
Water. Bubbles. Feet. The dull glug-glug-glug of the faucet.
As I slowly sink into the warm depths of the bathtub, eyes closed, all my senses start shutting themselves from the noise of the outside world. They concentrate now, instead, on the most immediate and mundane information input: the uniform warm and relaxing temperature of the water, a warm red against the black of my closed eyelids, the soft fruity and soapy smell, the slight chlorinish taste of the thick, warm and wet air. The dull glug-glug-glug of the faucet.
I resurface my ears slightly above the water. The sound from the faucet is now harsh and shrill, almost in a crystalline fashion, slush-slush-slush. My eyebrows tense up involuntarily. My body revolts and lets itself sink again, deeper into the water. It's just my nose now, and forehead, which emerge from the surface, above the layer of soapy foam.
The comfortingly dull glug-glug-glug returns to my ears. Strangely, I also feel its soothing weight on my eyes, as I slowly descend into the deeper reaches of my curiosity and let my mind wander…
The sound, from the faucet stream hitting the bath water, has travelled almost instantaneously before reaching my ears. Aren't ears a beautiful piece of biological technology? Somewhere along the evolutionary path, some creature, probably one of our first aquatic ancestors, must have understood that it could derive information about its environment from the vibrations hitting its body. Some creature further down the line (like a salamander, I think?) would then develop cells, and then a system, capable of sensing sound energy and then transferring the information to its brain. A class of creatures generations later would learn to move from water to land, learn to survive in air, and set in motion evolutionary modifications to adapt to aerial sound input and develop the mammalian auditory ossicles, which would one day become our ears. Then there is the physics of sound itself - the transfer of energy from atom to atom, attenuation, the speed at which these interactions happen, and the fact that this system actually exists to give us one more way to perceive the universe in which we exist. It's almost like sound always wanted itself to be heard from the time of the Big Bang…
I reach the faucet handles with my toes and in ten short rotations, I turn the water stream off. The bathroom is now a strangely quiet place.
I lower my auriculas into the water again and suddenly, there is a soft onslaught of auditory input. A dull gushing, perhaps of my own blood flowing around my eardrums. Such a difference of input from air and from water. I wonder if life had started on land itself, would evolution have invested so much energy in developing ears.
I decide it's a comforting feeling, the sound of my gushing blood, compared with complete silence...