I worked hard for my art this last week. I think Siri will agree I got enough steps in to cover the whole month, hiking up and down steep verticals and skipping (stumbling) across rocks. Seeking out the many stages of the Kiewa River as it flows down the mountain from the snow fields, passing by the foot of Bogong, through dam walls and on to Mt Beauty. As I’ve recorded the different stages of the river, I’ve been bringing them into my work, analysing them, composing to them – and in doing so my perception of the river has shifted (perhaps with my mood). On Saturday I recorded the Kiewa flowing powerfully across the Spion Kopje Track (an aside: I’m never doing this hike again! Human calves are not meant for such trials), an intimidating force against the classic ghostly hills of an alpine landscape. I stepped in it and it was cold. I photographed it and it looked colder. The sound is like a wall. Quick shifts as low frequency energy filling my chest trades and competes with high, crisp, transient droplets splashing at the tips of my ears while I listen. A river that powers Victoria, or at least contributes its fair share to doing so. The music I’ve written to this section of the river feels dark, heavy, brooding. I don’t think it’s necessarily comfortable to listen to this torrent, and I’m weighing how long to let this moment play out in my work.
A little ways down its path though, the Kiewa is changed. It feels vulnerable. I’m afraid to step near it as a footprint feels like it could divert the whole course of the thing. Here, it’s a trickle. Just a few hundred metres upstream of where I record lies Clover Dam, with its accompanying power station. A sort of brutalist beauty in itself, but stifling the Kiewa to be so. I’m sure I could make many points and reflections about that, and I’m sure there’d be many others to counter them.
I hadn’t planned on being so focused on the Kiewa River when I came to Bogong, but I guess it was inevitable. Even as I record away from the river, trying to capture bird calls and tree creaks in the bush, the Kiewa is still heard in the background always. Working with that sound has been challenging – I’ve been constantly flipflopping between thinking what I’ve done is fantastic and dismissing it as time wasted. There’s only a couple of days left of my time in Bogong so I’ll do what work I can in that time then leave it for a while, I think. The test of a thing is always if it still seems like a thing after you’ve walked away from it for some weeks. Perhaps in that time the files on my computer will manage to bring themselves together in just the right way without my interference, like there’s a little A.I. in there helping me out. I’ll still take all the credit, though. Naturally.