Experience and Meaning: A Sensory Engagement with The Environment

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Where to begin? I am originally from the city of Austin, Texas; and I have been working since I was eleven years old to finally arrive at The New School. Just recently, me along with several other incoming first-year students were assigned an “Experience and Meaning” activity. At first, I was assigned some pieces of reading material by author: “Tony Hiss,” and composer: “R. Murray Schafer.” As a combination- these readings truly shed light on the topic of Innocence and Wonder vs. Skepticism and Corruption. As we grow old, we are taught not to trust or to care about that which surrounds us and continue to graze through life in our man-made seclusion. Hiss speaks much about this subject on the visual plane, with Schafer acknowledging the aural scope. As a group, I along with others met at 66 West 12th Street to discuss what we gathered on a personal level from these articles. Our philosophy was challenged and reiterated.


We then gathered at Union Square Park and simply took notes and photos of our surroundings, doing the best to employ our senses to the highest degree amidst the hustle and bustle of New York City. Some of the key words that came to mind for me were: Wind (aural and visual), lush greenery (visual), sunglasses (visual), tattoos (visual), light (visual and the heat upon my back (sensory), age (visual), repetition (visual), falling leaves (visual), disappointment and disgust (facial expressions both visual and sensory). When I first approached the reading selections; I quickly and mentally dismissed them as impractical and stupid. However, as I began reading I was startled by Schafer’s mention of the ignorance that surrounds our aural experiences we recall daily. For instance, how they fail to be documented; whereas photographers and painters, even sculptors, etc are praised and preserved through visual displays in an art museum, or the pages of a library book.


Furthermore, I assume that this will all tie into the concept of maintaining a detail-oriented outlook towards every future endeavor here at The New School. Which concludes this with the question of why we are so taught to question and stick to what the status quo and trends have to offer whilst yet demanded to exude fertile and abundant imagination when this requires a rather expansive child-like and freedom-loving disposition? “A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.”- Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder, Tony Hiss Article, Page 3, Lines 1-2. “The first thing to realize is that the soundscape is dynamic. It is constantly changing both in time and place. And every sound commits suicide-it will never be heard again.”- R. Murray Schafer, R. Murray Schafer Article, Page 5, Lines 11-13.


Hello, My name is Megan Taylor, I am a returning student here at Parsons; my major is Fashion Design with a peaking interest in environmentalism and animal welfare; I hope to transform the industry someday...slowly but surely. My wish is to combine luxury and aesthetic appeal with the consciousness of how and where it is made along with the idea of what to do with it after use. I have been following my need to create and share with the world art and fashion since the tender age of eleven years old.

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