The Bogong Centre for Sound Culture is a remote-regional cultural initiative situated in the foothills of Victoria’s Alpine National Park. Established by Philip Samartzis and Madelynne Cornish the Centre supports projects focusing on the processes and impacts of sustainable energy production; effects of climate change in wilderness areas; ethnographic studies of remote communities; the chronicling of vanishing industrial procedures; and systems of representation used to render natural and built environments.
Additionally, the BCSC facilitates a broad cultural program comprising, festivals, exhibitions, publications, master classes and artists’ talks focusing on site-specific art practices. These programs establish a connection with place, its inhabitants, geographic space and memory. They engage a wide range of audiences, bringing together local, interstate and international artists across multiple disciplines and fields to realise ambitious works.
The BCSC is situated at the newly restored old school at Bogong Alpine Village located 350 kilometres from Melbourne in North East Victoria.
About Bogong Village
Bogong Alpine Village is 325 kilometres North-East of Melbourne situated at an altitude of 800 meters in the Alpine National Park between Mount Beauty and Falls Creek. The village was established in the late 1930s to service the first hydroelectric scheme in mainland Australia. More recently it has become a popular site for alpine sports, recreation and ecotourism. Click here for directions.
A Short History
Work on the Kiewa Scheme commenced in 1938 with the construction of a road from Tawonga to the High Plains. Previously the only access was by foot or horseback along tracks that had been forged by cattlemen of a bygone era. Bogong Village was established once the road from Junction Camp was trafficable (March 1939); this paved the way for the construction of permanent buildings. Prior to that life was tough; large canvas tents and flies were used for sleeping quarters and smaller tents were set up to house the kitchens. By 1940 Bogong Township had grown considerably with a general store, staff offices, recreational mess, police station, and a variety of accommodation such as single men’s quarters and residences for married staff and families.
Bogong State School
In 1941 the Primary School at Bogong Village enrolled its first intake of students comprising nine pupils. Initially the school consisted of a large classroom, storeroom and boys and girls toilets. Extensions were carried out in 1944, which expanded the capabilities of the school. A library, storeroom, pupil’s lunchroom and shelter shed were added and rock gardens were established. By 1947 the number of students had grown to 46 all of whom were children of local SEC workers. Over the years class sizes fluctuated and the building remained unchanged. In 1980 it ceased to operate as a school and sat idle, eventually falling into disrepair. In 2004 it was sold along with many other buildings in the village.
Madelynne Cornish and Philip Samartzis bought the Old School and set about restoring it to its former glory. The rotting weatherboards and floorboards, smashed windows and flaking paint are now a distant memory. The newly refurbished building occupies it’s original footprint and bares a strong resemblance to it’s former self. Although the internals have been modernized remnants of it’s past history remain. The Old School once played a significant role in the fabric of village life. It inspired the community and helped shape the minds of those who studied there. It is our intention as custodians that the School once again functions as a place of inspiration.
Reference: Kiewa Kids School Days at Bogong & Mount Beauty by Graham Gardner
As the residency has progressed we have begun to develop distinct areas and themes we would like to focus on individually:
1.The Bogong moth, it’s connection with the past indigenous population and how it is attracted to light -fitting into the theme of Phantasmagoria.
2.The Power Lines arterial line through the valley, connecting towns to power stations and drawing power and light from the river
3.The ferocity of the water and its constant movement that is harnessed by the power plants.
4.The Dams that store this energy- massive monolithic, quiet structures that hold immense pressure.
We have explored the dams extensively, with Erin filming static shots both in daylight and floodlit night, as well as under the full moon. We’ve also activated them sonically with feedback, exciting their inner chambers resonant frequencies. One night filming I noticed a Bogong moth resting (or possibly dying) on the frame of the floodlights. I managed to get some close up footage of it that excited me enough to be on the look-out for more of them. The next night we noticed our kitchen window was attracting moths from the outside which allowed us to capture more, ultra close up shots. I have never thought of myself as someone who could pull of photography and video of living animals, but there’s something about the moths twitching bodies that really fascinates me and I am very happy to have the footage.
The other major process we have used in our time here has been photographing the turbulent water of the river, just before it hits the Bogong power station, at night with the use of strobe lights. The effect is of violent glimpses of the water, sometimes almost completely abstract if viewed without context. It’s a great pairing though of the water and the power it is capable of generating. The silvery light of the strobe turning the waters current into an electric one.