Everything Old Is New Again

Of course, I realised in that moment; I had always known.

There are only seven stories in the whole, wide world.

Told by seven billion people, over and over and I have lived and breathed every single one of them.

Or at least, that’s what I thought – believed – until you said,



#51 of 52: Nathan Welch

Object: A pair of headphones


Themes explored in the artwork included;

  • Dream symbolism; to dream of listening to music via headphones means that you are in touch with your intuition.
  • Command and control; headphones are tools of the trade for roles such as pilots, air traffic control, broadcast DJ’s, sound engineers and so on. In these instance, headphones are not just a means of passively receiving information or entertainment content, they are a tool for active listening.
  • Exploration; my music-loving friends enjoy the pursuit of new sounds. They actively seek out new bands, movements and sources of new music. They are on a continual quest to find and share new frontiers in music,
  • Rediscovery; they also enjoy the process of listening to old favourites and finding new ways to appreciate them, whether it’s a sound or studio effect that was previously unnoticed or the meaning of a lyric. This process continually re-invents and layers new meaning on the old.
  • Music as a form of communication and an expression of culture. Plato said that the music of a nation could not be changed, without first changing it’s customs. Music is a way of expressing an idea, conveying an emotional state, telling a story or drawing attention to an issue.

The tribe suggested;

  • Personal space; people wear headphones as a “do not disturb” sign, to create a boundary around themselves. Conversely, they may be listening in on conversations around them, as others assume that they can’t hear what is said.
  • People with headphones can also invade the space of others when the volume and noise pollution is louder than the ambient noise level of their surroundings.

The final work is concerned with the communication, exploration and rediscovery. A man listens to another person on the telephone. He thinks that he has heard it all before, until the other party challenges him to “listen”. In that moment, he is reminded that although he carries a lifetime of experience, that things change and there is always potential for discovery and learning. We can’t always take things for granted.

His context is mundane; sitting at a desk, talking on the phone. In the background, however are stylised renderings of images from the Voyager Golden Record. The Voyager space probes were launched in 1977. They each carry a phonograph record, made of gold, that contains sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth. They are etched with instructions on how to play the disc, how to find this planet within the solar system and some information on our species.

John F Kennedy recorded a message for the record. Here’s an excerpt;

“We cast this message into the cosmos … We are trying to survive our time so we may live into yours. We hope some day, having solved the problems we face, to join a community of Galactic Civilizations. This record represents our hope and our determination and our goodwill in a vast and awesome universe.”

It’s a marvelous expression of vision, optimism and the basic human need to communicate and connect and that is what this work attempts to encapsulate. The man in the picture just wants to get through the day. Someone else is attempting to connect. Life is full and often the small moments are the ones that give rise to the momentous discoveries – personal or otherwise.


Project 52

Project52 is a participatory art project that explores intrigue and our relationships with objects and people. Provide a photo of an object. Receive an artwork and 52-word story. Reflect. Playback and share.

The project will culminate in an exhibition, when 52 works are completed.



Check out some of the works.


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