“When we use the term environmental sound, we are not referring to a specific kind of sound, nor a specific kind of environment, but to a specific conception of sound in which it is defined by its environmental context: thus, the tweeting of birds and the rustling of leaves in the wind are part of the environmental sound of a forest; the hum of air conditioning and the tapping of computer keyboards are part of the environmental sound of an office.” Bianchi, Frederick & Manzo, V.J., Environmental Sound Artists: In Their Own Words, New York, NY, Oxford. 2016.
Welcome to Radio Compost. You can read more about the artists on this broadcast at urbantells.net. Radio Compost is about listening deeply to the banal, mundane, and difficult-to-hear environmental sounds. There is a poetics to be discovered in the acoustic landscape that might reveal the health of our planet. What do these bioacoustics say to us as consumers? Can listening deeply to the outdoors help us better understand the impact humans are having on planet earth?
The following sound compositions expose the listener to different methods and approaches in “listening” to place. Using experimental poetic and direct means, from field recording to composed works, the artists are informed by bioacoustics, and data sonification, and interpretation of what they heard. The complexity and indicators of fitness and health of the natural world might be sounding an alarm.
1) Douglas Quin, Antarctica: Wild Sanctuary, (track 7) At the Sea Ice Edge (Underwater Recordings of Leopard Seals, Weddell Seals and Orcas), 15:07. Miramar, 09006-23113-2
Excerpted from Living Data, Evolving Conversations, Douglas Quin. Sound art arranged from underwater recordings of Weddell seals at Big Razorback Island in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, contributes to scientific understanding of their breeding patterns. Big Razorback Island is part of an archipelago, the crest of an extinct caldera in the Ross Sea and a known breeding area for the Weddell seal.
Researchers have classified 12 types of calls with 34 discrete phrases, from booming territorial sounds to birdlike chirps and whistles. Their frequency range is remarkable, with lower frequency calls registering around 0.1KHz and others reaching up to 70KHz, well beyond human hearing which levels out at about 16KHz. Males generally have a broader repertoire of calls which are heard most often during the mating season, as a display to competing males and to attract females. Weddell seal sounds can be heard above and below the ice and they communicate on land as well as in water. Underwater source levels of some calls can reach a deafening193dB. These powerful sounds can be felt through 2 metres of ice.
2) Joan Schuman, Catalogue of Morning, This Beautiful Carcass, HyperAcousia, 11:48
Excerpted from HyperAcousia. On a desolate beach in Northern California’s Humboldt County, a marine biologist and a citizen scientist troll for bird carcasses, inadvertently finding beauty and, perhaps, answers about the ocean’s warming waters.
3 & 4) Ed Ruchalski, iso-loci 12:05, and Vernal Pond 1, 4:57
Ed Ruchalski created iso-loci 2017 for homework – year 2 by Taalem Records. At the time Ruchalski was immersed in an artist-residency at Stone Quarry Hill Park, Cazenovia, NY. A majority of the hydrophone and field recording are from small vernal ponds that included improvisation on metal sculptures located in the park. The cicadas are recorded from a farm near Charlottesville, Virginia.
5) Andre Polli, Atmospherics Weather Works, 12:37, 2002
Polli’s sound composition inspired by “complexity theory” was generated from point-based weather data from 1962 – 1992 by the Canadian Ecodistrict. Solar radiation, temperature, and sunlight data was used to control the wind samples.
This series is dedicated to broadcasting various forms of radio and transmission art.
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