I have had a strong engagement with environmental field recording for 35 years, first as a professional film sound recordist in my early 20s and subsequently as a sound artist. I joined the electro-environmental sound art group Social Interiors (with Rik Rue and Shane Fahey) in the mid 1990s, releasing three critically acclaimed CDs of environmental sound art and audio collage on Extreme Records. I have also had a long involvement with electro-acoustic music which eventually led to an interest in using live data in my work. This allowed me to engage with the environment via the datasphere which has become more accessible in the past ten years.
Around the time of the catastrophic 2019-2020 Australian bushfires I had become interested in philosopher Timothy Morton’s notion of the hyperobject – large scale structures above (or within) humanity that are difficult to comprehend due to their sheer temporal and spatial vastness. Whilst these phenomena in some ways defy cognition, they impose large scale effects.
The fires of 2019-2020 devastated the Australian bush in a way I had never experienced in my lifetime. In response, I created an audio work ‘The Billion’ from my many years of bush field recordings that I had made along the coastal bushlands of New South Wales. This work was selected for inclusion in the ‘Audiosphere’ exhibition in Spain, curated by Francisco Lopez. My residency at Bogong Centre for Sound Culture (BCSC) in October 2023 continues and extends this program of activity. Our climate challenges are now being felt acutely, and no more is this evident that in cold climates, alpine regions, and in the ant/arctic. The project creatively draws on Timothy Morton’s notion of the ‘hyperobject’ in the form of the large scale pattern of changing weather systems. It attempts to foreground these changes through creative/affective mapping of environmental data to sound, music and video media. The high plains location of Bogong in the Australian Alpine National Park and surrounding weather systems are perfect to investigate the hyperobject of climate. Snow depth in the Australian alps has declined by 15% since the 1960s. This fragile Australian alpine ecology can therefore form the basis of a new work that can bring people closer to the dynamics of our environmental challenges. In recent years there has been an increase in the amount of live data on the internet that can be accessed via application programming interfaces (APIs). To explore the weather systems of the high plains area, I have developed software in the Max programming environment that makes API calls to 8 surrounding weather stations and pulls down current conditions. The current weather data is then used to drive audio and video parameters in real time.
The Bogong residency will support development of this work towards a major work 'Solar Halo' to be presented at Experimental Intermedia in New York City in December this year. It is providing the time to work on the software programming phases and get into the field to explore and capture perspective on the unique surroundings in the high country.
After a couple of days of continuous rain and road closures, I was able to get out to record in the field around Clover Power Station and up in the high plains beyond Falls Creek. I've been engaging in a series of 360 degree video and ambisonic audio captures of various locations which I anticipate using in the work.