Fragmented Skies

The photographer Joachim Schmid was (and perhaps still is) afflicted by a condition known as hyperacusis -- a reaction of severe irritation to sounds of certain frequencies. Apparently airborne sounds like helicopters were causing him great discomfort. Whether or not the object was visible, Mr. Schmid, as a self-imposed therapy, would step outside and take a photograph of the sky.  Each moment of pain, then, was transformed into an opportunity to collect another photograph.  Mr. Schmid writes on his website: "After more than a year and two thousand photographs later, I had nearly stopped noticing why I started taking them. I guess, in this way, the exercise could be considered a complete success."
Tausend Himmel by Joachim Schmid
The project, as a collection of thousands of these photographs, is titled Tausend Himmel, which can be translated as "Thousand Skies" or "Thousand Heavens".  It is provocative that the source of inspiration here is an unwavering discomfort with the environment.  Is is it not a dissatisfaction with our environment which then leads to the production of something better?  The mitigation of noise is such a sensitive issue in our urban and rural environments.  Imagine, then, a population armed with recording mechanisms, aggressively pointing them toward the perpetrating sources.  Would this lead to greater legislation and other means of control of these sources?  Or, would this collective insurgency actually produce a new social order in relation to these sonic infiltrations? Don't ask the parents to clam up their crying baby; just take close-up shots of its screaming mouth.

There is a beautiful ambiguity to Mr. Schmid's project which on the one hand insulates the sounds of the sky from criticism as 'noise' and on the other hand points to the sounds as these incredibly pervasive assaults on personal space.  The artist further plunges us into ambiguity by the title of the work.  Is it simply a work of documentation--a thousand skies--or is it a provocation that we can overcome the perception of sound-as-noise and appreciate all sound as something transcending our daily lives--a thousand heavens?