Polly Stanton

Entry #1

05.11.2014

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Photo–Polly Stanton

The first two days of my time at the BCSC has been spent in the Alpine National Park (a 15 minute drive from the residency) tracing the flow of snow-melt water. Starting my audio / visual documentation on the summit of Mt McKay, I lost track of time as I followed the path of water droplets from remaining ice sheets, down the rocky slopes to the tundra plains below. There the thin trickle of water begins to seep through the compact moss and plant matter to form dark pools of icy water.

The tundra acts like a giant sponge, straining and filtering the water, while collecting and funnelling it into larger pools and waterways. I spent hours at this site and was struck by how otherworldly it felt. I took some time to become accustomed in how to negate the landscape. Walking on the tundra itself is like walking on a raft of floating plant matter that at once feels tough, stable and anchored and conversely appears active, mobile and delicate. Underneath this web of moss and grass is the constant flow of water, diverging into hundreds of puddles and tiny streams, seemingly random but still focused in its intent to keep moving.

Walking above this meshwork of water I was struck by how quiet it was. I found I had to dig my microphone into the cushiony tundra to capture the sounds of small tickles, crackles and pops the water made as it seeped through the surface material. This led me to be more active with the way I used my microphone, often burying it or laying it flat to capture the gentle undercurrents.

The climate is fluctuating and hard to gauge in the high-country. Icy winds that catch me off balance give way to sudden bursts of sunshine that make me sweat and burns my skins before I’ve even registered that I’m standing in full sun. Ten degrees feels like twenty. Interestingly I have consistently noticed how the soundscape changes with the appearance of sun. Sounds become closer and softer when it shines and more distant and stark when the cloud cover returns due to the changes in atmosphere.

With the luxury of time and solitude that the residency and surrounding environment affords, I’m able to travel with all my equipment and stop anywhere to film and record. The situation gives me more space and time to swap between mediums at the same location, where usually I would film and record on separate days. I’ve found this has opened up a more reflexive interchange in my practice between sound and moving image, where both mediums are more readily inform each in the capturing of events.