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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
We return once more to explore the sonic properties of the wall. Riding the resonant frequencies of the monolith, oscillating finely between control and chaos, overwhelming vibration and silence. The bell tolls, its undulation now better informed by my time spent listening to the rhythm of the wind, water and wildlife. We too are (part of/one with) wildlife; forming macro patterns from a white noise like bed of flickering chaos. The recordings of this performance illuminate aspects of the way sound travels and is delayed through the space that it’s impossible to experience in the now.
In the moon-shadows cast by two figures carrying a Vox amp over the dam wall you can see the outline of our project emerging
My camera is no match for the rapidly flowing water, transforming the spurious now into an ever-changing series of still fragments. It’s options controlled by the path worn through the rocks by the flow that have come before yet remaining completely free and unpredictable/unknowable. Past, ‘present’ and future all at the same time, evading replication and repetition. Just as we turn the strobes to it, nature outdoes our wattage as electrostatic energy from the building storm discharges through lightning - it’s sonic counterpart separated and delayed by different rates of travel and perception allow the crack of the lightning bolt to reverberate through the valley, transforming/modulating itself into the earth-rumbling thunder we hear.
According to Brian Cox the energy contained in a human is equivalent to a lightning bolt. The number of equivalences grow as I spend more time here, the moth makes the same sound as the powerlines, the call of deer is the same pitch as a resonant tones of the monolith and through it all - white noise.