The Voice of the Sea

 

Núria Bonet (ICCMR – Plymouth University, UK).

nuria.bonet@plymouth.ac.uk

https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/schools/hpa/interdisciplinary-centre-for-computer-music-research-iccmr

Abstract

The Voice of the Sea is a music performance which uses information gathered by a marine buoy off the coast of South East Cornwall, in real-time to determine compositional choices. Factors such as wave height, period, direction, water temperature will directly influence musical parameters. The Voice of the Sea is a piece reflecting the state of the sea at the time of the performance. Therefore, every performance will be unique as the resulting music will be determined by the location of the buoy and the weather conditions at the time of play. Surrounded by speakers, the listeners will be immersed in an extended and real-time marine sonic world of recorded and electronic sounds.

Description

The performance of the Voice of the Sea lasts up to 30 minutes. The data from the buoy are received in real-time and turned into music through data sonification to create a performance which is both aesthetically engaging and intellectually stimulating. Each performance is unique as it reflects the state of the sea on the day; the buoy can also be chosen according to the place where the piece is performed. Visual aids such as a graph of the incoming data and a webcam are meant to help the listener to understand their experience and focus on what they are hearing.

This installation encourages the audience to experience their surroundings, in this case the ocean and its behaviour, in an emotional manner. Music can evoke emotions but also a curiosity for the data used, therefore being a great tool for outreach. This performance is part of a wider research project using environmental and climate change data to compose music; to further public engagement and evaluate the usefulness of music in doing so.

The Voice of the Sea will be first performed on 26 February at Plymouth University as part of the Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival. A summer performance at Balance-Unbalance will create an interesting counterpart to the first performance due to the cyclical nature of winter storms.

BIOGRAPHIE:

Núria is a PhD student at Plymouth University under the supervision of Prof Eduardo Miranda and Alexis Kirke. Her research looks at the use of sonification methods in music composition; her music has been performed by Psappha, Lucilin Ensemble and Vaganza amongst others, and in locations such a disused cotton mill, an underground fortification and the jungle at the Eden Project. Núria also researches Catalan folk instruments. She has published in the Galpin Society Journal and Women&Music.

Beyond the Lakes

Abstract

Beyond the Lakes explores the inner sonic qualities and hidden sounds masked beneath the industrial soundscape of Workington, Cumbria. A new environment brings sounds that invade our listening space because they are new and unfamiliar such as the echoing screech of seagulls in Portland Square, a small cobbled square surrounded by concrete dwellings. The mourning call of the seagull and other birds also presents interesting sonic characteristics, almost a human-like cry.

This piece reflects a past soundscape that may have once witnessed historic events that occurred around Workington Hall, such as the arrival of Mary Queen of Scots as she fled from Scotland in 1568. This virtual soundworld weaves amongst present day soundscape recordings; the song of the blackbird, a family of ducks amongst the reeds and a dog frolicking in the river that flows around the hall. While often some soundscape compositions highlight environmental concerns, for this work I chose to focus on the maskedsonic worlds that exist in Workington. This piece was commissioned by The Octopus Collective as part of the Full of Noises Festival, 2015 with funding from the Women Make Music, PRS for Music Foundation.

Author Biography

Brona Martin is an Electroacoustic composer and sound artist from Banagher, Co. Offaly, Ireland currently based in Ely, Cambridge. Brona completed a PhD in Electroacoustic Composition under the supervision of Professor David Berezan at NOVARS Research Centre, University of Manchester. Her research interests include narrative in Electroacoustic music, soundscape composition, acoustic ecology and spatialisation. Her acousmatic works composed in stereo, 5.1 and 8-channel have included the creative exploration of soundscapes from Ireland, Manchester, East Coast Australia, Spain and Germany and Cumbria. Her works have been performed internationally in the USA, Canada, Australia, Europe and Asia. For more information visit www.bronamartin.com.

Situations for Empathic Movement

 

Leslie Sharpe

Abstract

This proposal is for an artistic work titled “Situations for Empathic Movement.” This work addresses our understanding of place and its inhabitants through embodied experience as well as via remote understanding of tracked beings, looking at behaviours and changing habitats of animals that are both remote to the region, but also birds that pass through Devon through migration. This work will include several components: an instructional audience-participation event (for empathic movement with remote caribou), an exhibition component, and components for walks with divergent activities in the region. This work proposes to include references to physical reminders of place and its inhabitants and visitors, as well as to the passage of beings through space and place as tracked through technology.

Description

This project references and continues some threads from my previous work. Several years ago, I had been researching and teaching about wireless histories and thinking about embodiment and place in our networked world – wondering how we can understand place and subjectivity not just through embodied experience but also through the delivery of site, beings and space as information — onsite, offsite, and online. I began to follow tracked animals online – recording their migration routes and trying to imagine what it meant when they stopped transmitting data: had they lost their tracking device, or had they come to some horrible end? I started traveling to record physical reminders of human and animal presences at distant sites – a hole ripped out of the earth by grizzly bears, a 100-year old ring where Marconi’s wireless transmission towers once stood at Poldhu, photographing a withered carcass of a polar bear while visiting the graves of Franklin’s team on Beechey Island, hearing the buzz of insects in a swamp at a Marconi site in Nova Scotia, visiting abandoned mining and Dew-line sites in the Canadian Arctic, seeing live caribou in the Arctic on Victoria Island – and part of their remains scattered on a forest floor in Ivvavik in the Yukon. These reminders of animal and human presence, gathered through my own experience and through virtual tracking of animals through online data and research have become the inspiration and material for a larger body of work that I have been pursuing for the past few years.

This work proposes to include references to physical reminders of place and its inhabitants, as well as to the passage of beings through space and place as tracked through technology.

This work will include several components: an instructional audience-participation event (for empathic movement with remote caribou), an exhibition component, and components for walks with divergent activities in the region. While all of these are proposed and related, I am willing to be flexible in what is included if not all components work for Balance-UnBalance.

Coastal and other trail walks are part of a culture of understanding place, and this is especially so in Southwest England, with many historic coastal and nature trails near Plymouth or in North Devon – attracting many people interested in environment and nature who are concerned about the effects of climate change on these environments and their ecosystems. While I have not encountered these specific trails, I have done extensive project research in a nearby area of Cornwall in Poldhu, at the site of Marconi’s first trans-Atlantic wireless transfer. While Marconi and wireless may seem unrelated to animals that visit or inhabit the UK or the Arctic, wireless technologies and culture have changed our understanding of embodiment, identity and place, and what is ‘remote.’ We can follow and potentially have empathy for animals that are remote to our own immediate environment (and understanding), because so many animals are not only tracked for scientific purposes (using GPS and satellites), but also made ‘near’ to a general public through websites (e.g., the WWF website) that share information on where they are or have been. This information is usually translated from data into an easily understood online graphic format that reveals animal movements and habitats, so one does not need to be a scientist or specialist to decipher it, bringing it one step closer to (an embodied) empathic understanding.

The work I am proposing will refer to animals (tracked through satellite tracking or traditional- or citizen- science) whose habitats are changing as a result of climate change and human development. These will include birds that migrate through the UK who can be seen and documented by the audience, as well as two animals I have focused on in the past that are very remote to the UK, but may be known by some people there already via the aforementioned kind of websites (caribou and polar bears, both distant from the UK). Additionally, a third ‘being’ will be referred to – a disembodied signal that was sent from Poldhu across the ocean by Marconi, precipitating our present-day understandings and experiences of place, space and being.

Author Biography

Leslie Sharpe has exhibited and presented work internationally in Canada, Columbia, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Turkey, the UK and USA, and has been an artist-in-residence at P.S. 1 (New York), Banff Centre (Canada), and lvvavik National Park (Canadian Arctic). Sharpe holds an MFA in Computing for the Arts from University of California, San Diego, and taught art at Pratt Institute (New York), University of California, San Diego (La Jolla), and Indiana University School of Fine Arts (Bloomington). She is currently Chair of Art and Design and Associate Professor in Fine Art at MacEwan University (Canada). Sharpe has published her writing in the Leonardo Online special issue on Locative Media, the books Far Field: Digital Culture, Climate Change, and the Poles (Intellect Press), Textile Messages: Dispatches from the World of E-textiles and Education (Peter Lang Publishing), and in the forthcoming Exhibiting Sound. Sharpe’s artwork and research for the past several years has addressed animal-human relationships, climate change, environment, colonialism, and the North, as well as narrative works related to sites of early wireless history, including Marconi sites stretching from Newfoundland Canada and Massachusetts to Poldhu, UK.

SUB

 

Carlos Gárate Marquerie (Spain)

c.garate.marquerie@gmail.com 

Abstract

SUB is a sound performance that aims, by exploring the acoustic activity of the underground, to make audible sound spectra that usually go unnoticed. Here, subterranean sounds recorded by the artist with geophones are edited and arranged in a performance that shows the dynamics of the Earth.

With SUB Carlos tries to explore the sounds of the anthropocene, the geological epoch in which we are. In this era humans have become one of the strongest geophysical forces on Earth. Human activity has irreversibly changed the composition of the atmosphere, the oceans and even the Earth’s crust.

The causes of this scenario can be found in the physical infrastructure of capitalism: big cities,industrial complexes, massive transport systems, etc… Carlos considers that this infrastructure produce acoustic activity on the underground, a space that vibrates and where the sounds of natural origin of immense scale such as earthquakes and the rotation of the Earth itself melt with the sounds produced by human activities. Sounds that are projected to the underground and are an unmistakable sign of the anthropocene.

Description

Sub is a performance that, by exploring the acoustic activity of the underground, the underlayer of the Earth’s surface, aims to show and make audible sound spectra that normally go unnoticed and establish a connection between the anthropocene, the limits of human perception and the digital software . It consists in edited sounds from the underground that I recorded with a geophone, a very sensitive industrial device used to measure vibrations that I use as a very powerful contact microphone. Those sounds are processed by a distortion module and a reverb.

The distortion is a module that uses dirt/soil to process the signal that you put in (check). It basically is a pile of earth inside an Eurorack module, conditioning an amplifier circuit and producing distortion. The module was designed and built by Martin Howse. The reverb is a convolution one created by me. What I did to create it is the next: I buried two speakers, played a sound on them and recorded the result with the geophone that was attached to the ground near by the speakers. I used that sound file to create a reverb that sounds quite distorted and unreal, very digital. It is the software’s interpretation of the underground’s space. I consider here that I put in relation the Earth with the software and the sound.

We are now in the anthropocene, the geological era that follows the Holocene. In this era humans have become the most relevant geological force on Earth. Human activity has irreversibly changed the composition of the atmosphere, the oceans and even the Earth’s crust. It has also started the six species extinction.

This situation demands the ability to abstract thinking to points where it has not been necessary before and understand that there is a reality beyond our senses. It requires a deeper study of matter and energy, of living and non-living elements. It is crucial breaking with the anthropocentric thinking that leaves the planet in this extreme situation and I believe that we only can do it using modern technology.

The underground is a sonic space, a space that vibrates and where the sounds of natural origin melt with the sounds produced by the human activities that lead to the anthropocene. A geophone can capture sounds from the rotation of the earth, the ones produced by the friction caused in the crust by ocean tides and even the activity of small insects that live underground. But it also captures the work of nearby mines, the vibration of buildings, port activity, sounds from a close highway and almost whatever activity that uses large scale means.

What I want is to access these movements that happen where we can not be and at a rate of vibration that can not perceived by us. The fact that we don’t perceive it vibrate doesn’t mean that it is not vibrating. understanding that our perception’s limit happens here because a difference on timescales is crucial to understand the anthropocene.

This way I want to explore a space that we usually consider motionless but is moving constantly providing clues of where we are going in this time of changing ecologies. My goal is to dive into problems such as these and imagine speculative alternatives to the common rational discourses, which are in fact at least partially backed by science and philosophy old and new.

Author Biography

Carlos Gárate Marquerie (Madrid,1989) is a sound artist that lives and works in Madrid. He received his B.A in Sound Arts from London College of Communication. Carlos’ research encompasses theory and practice, focusing on the agency of Earth’s materiality and energies on social systems. He works primarily with electromagnetic waves and subterranean vibrations to build his music performances and sound installations. He has performed in places such as Spain, Greece, France and the UK. He also has been invited to speak about the relation of sound and the Anthropocene at Basel (SWZ) and Knoxville’s Universities (US).