Noises Are Too Close Here

Shwe Wutt Hmon

Noises Are Too Close Here, 2023-ongoing, Single Channel Video along with the sound 8min31sec and 3 photos (No.1, 10, 11 from the series)
All images courtesy of the artist

  • Noises Are Too Close Here No.1

  • No.1, Back side

  • Noises Are Too Close Here No.10

  • No.10, Back side

  • Noises Are Too Close Here No.11

  • No.11, Back side

The project's inception was a spontaneous response to my transition from urban life, as I became more attuned to the subtleties of nature, including plants, animals, and landscapes. It also represents my ongoing exploration of various forms of "NOISE," from the hallucinated sounds my family battles with to the choking air pollution during the notorious smog season in my lodging of Chiang Mai, Thailand. This particular perspective on "Noise" emerged during my travels between my artist residency at Rimbun Dahan, a 14-acre tropical garden just beyond Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Chiang Mai where I currently live throughout 2023.

The work comprises a photographic installation and simultaneous sonic soundscape, blending analog photography with scanner-generated images to portray the experience of noise being too close in the depicted environment. Color and monochrome images, captured through deliberate and unhurried analog photography, chronicle my daily exploration of the Rimbun Dahan garden. Gathered fragments of scattered flowers, leaves, and deceased insects from the garden are thoughtfully positioned onto printed photographs, adding an extra layer of imagery through the use of a scanner. These images convey a narrative of personal closeness and meticulous observation of nature's nuances and intricate elements. An experimental video interweaves a visual narrative with footage from the Rimbun Dahan garden and archival materials illustrating air pollution in northern Thailand and pressing environmental deterioration in Myanmar, all of which I call home.

"Noises Are Too Close Here" intimately explores an individual's journey from unfamiliarity with the ecological realm to a deep connection with nature. This transformation unfolds amidst the intricate nuances of flora and fauna within a tropical garden over a period of time. The work serves as a unique introspection, delving into my personal narrative and the alarming experience that noise intensifies during a stroll through a tranquil environment of a tropical garden. It encourages contemplation of how we, as human beings, have significantly harmed our natural world and raises the question of whether there remains an opportunity to mend and safeguard our ecosystem.

About the Artist

  • Shwe Wutt Hmon

Shwe Wutt Hmon is a Burmese photographer and mixed media artist, living and working in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Shwe’s works focus on collective histories, familial ties, knots and threads of human relationship and exploring the inner psyche through intimate storytelling about people and places dear to her heart. She tells personal stories from which she connects and examines broader social aspects; vice versa she works on social documentaries reflecting and drawing from her own position within the issue. Shwe uses photography as her main medium and incorporates archives, videos, texts, poems, paintings and drawings of her own or collaborating with others. 

Shwe is the recipient of respected art and photography awards including the Objectifs Documentary Award 2020 (Open Category) and the inaugural Julius Baer Next Generation Art Prize in 2021. Her works have been exhibited internationally in art festivals and spaces such as Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Aichi Triennale, Singapore International Photography Festival, Photo Australia International Festival of Photography, ArtScience Museum Singapore, Bangkok Art & Culture Centre and Photoforum Pasquart.
Shwe has also participated and featured in many educational and residency programs. To name a few are a selected participant in 13th Angkor Photo Workshop in 2017, South Asia Incubator 1 at Photo Kathmandu 2018, World Press Photo’s 2020 Joop Swart Masterclass, British Journal of Photography's Ones to Watch 2021, artist in residence at Villa Sträuli in Winterthur, Switzerland, in early 2020, supported by Pro Helvetia Swiss Arts Council, New Delhi and Southeast Asia artist residency at Rimbun Dahan in Kuang, Malaysia in 2023.  

Editor: Aura Contemporary Art Foundation