Bogong High Plains Sound Map
The Bogong High Plains Sound Map is a generative website comprising sound recordings of the eco-acoustic characteristics of the Victorian alps to express the effects of climate change, industrialisation and recreational tourism upon this rarefied cold climate ecology. The website uses real time data including temperature, wind speed and precipitation to activate and contour the recordings to reflect the prevailing conditions and to encourage new and dynamic interactions.
Sound maps provide a way of expressing the acoustic markers of place distinct from textual and visual methods used in traditional cartography. For this project sound recordings are used to expand the way the region is represented by incorporating seasonal characteristics to enhance audience experience and interaction. The website will feature recordings produced over one year to demonstrate ways the alpine environment is transformed by climate and weather, as well as by activities such as power generation, land management, tourism and sport. Through the convergence of natural, anthropogenic and atmospheric events the sound map will articulate the operations and conditions underpinning this unique cold climate ecology.
The recent wildfires in Victoria and NSW provide powerful evidence of how endangered alpine habitats are. This project is responsive to the volatility generated by global warming by preserving and advocating for a place central to the health and wellbeing of all Australians.
The Bogong High Plains Sound Map is funded by the Australia Council for the Arts.
Unclear Cloud is an architectural and sound installation by Roland Snooks and Philip Samartzis that draws attention to the scale, accelerating growth and subsequent ecological implications of computation and ‘the cloud’ – a metaphor for the internet. The project features in Sampling the Future at the NGV Australia.
Often thought of as immaterial and benign, the cloud is in fact a vast ecosystem of over 40 billion devices, apps and software, driving trillions of uploads, downloads and their subsequent storage. The seemingly non-physical contents of the cloud have a massive physical footprint on earth. The global network of energy-hungry data centres enabling the cloud are set to consume as much as 1/5 of the earth’s energy generation by 2025, much of it from non-renewable sources such as oil, gas and coal.
Unclear Cloud seeks to draw this complex scenario into focus, questioning how we feel about the most sophisticated technologies in use today – software, AI and algorithms being powered by polluting carbon-based systems that are contributing to global heating and its consequences. Our future cities will increasingly rely on advanced cloud computing, from simple algorithmic procedures to artificial intelligence, for their design, construction and infrastructural logistics. These cloud-based algorithms become the unseen structural framework behind the evolution of urbanism and architecture. Cloud Affects explores what is not seen in this algorithmically driven computational cloud world.
The project attempts to reify a structure from the nebulous; to materialise and express these intangible algorithms and make reference to the real-world infrastructure required to prop up the virtual cloud. It seeks to offer a new architectural geometric expression, one that can only emerge from the use of advanced computation within both the design and robotic fabrication processes.
Unclear Cloud also explores the architectural relationship of structure and ornament enabled by cloud-based algorithms. The polymer skin of the project is reinforced through the use of carbon fibre and resin to give it structural rigidity and strength. This carbon fibre inlay is simultaneously expressive and ornamental, an enhanced tectonic legibility of the structural system highlighting the algorithm-enabled architecture of the installation.
The embedded sound installation explores the environmental impact of cloud computing and its massive energy requirements – capturing the sounds of the cloud and its physical implications, being composed in part from recordings of glacial melting recorded in the Swiss Alps and Antarctica, and the scientific instruments used to measure greenhouse gases in the atmosphere – creating a sonic affect as a consequence of global climate change.
Commissioned by the Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture and the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne with the support of RMIT University School of Architecture and Urban Design, RMIT University School of Art, Boeing, and The Hugh D. T. Williamson Foundation. Sound work supported by The Bogong Centre for Sound Culture, Creative Victoria, the High-Altitude Research Station at Jungfraujoch and Gornegrat, the Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology at the Zurich University of the Arts, and the Swiss National Science Foundation.
Notes from the field
Notes from the Field is first a portrait of a place – Bogong Village, in the Alpine region of North East Victoria. Bogong is a place of exceptional natural beauty, and a site of many intersecting concerns. Halfway between Mount Beauty and Falls Creek, it was established in its current form as a worker’s village for the Kiewa Hydroelectric scheme.
Bogong is the Dhudhuroa word for “big moth” and gives name to Mount Bogong, the Bogong High Plains and Bogong Village, as well as the well-known moth whose existence is now threatened through industrial agriculture, habitat destruction, climate change and other anthropogenic impacts. The discordant relationships between industrial technologies, human involvement and the environment is stark in the unique setting of Bogong Village. The power station is a major presence in the village, and although hydroelectric technology promises to produce green energy, the damming of the Kiewa river has forever altered the valley’s ecosystem and landscape.
It is in this environment that Madelynne Cornish and Philip Samartzis have been running the Bogong Centre for Sound Culture for the last ten years. The centre invites artists from across the globe to travel to this remote part of Australia and immerse themselves in the site. The artists mainly engage in fieldwork, a process of recording, compiling and organising information, such as sound, video, photographs, and sketches.
Notes from the Field brings together the work of 15 artists who have been resident at Bogong Village over the last ten years, with work presented both in the gallery spaces and online. Notes from the Field celebrates the incredible initiative of this globally reaching and supportive artist residency program in North East Victoria. The artists have observed and recorded the dissonance between landscape, humans and technology and now present their findings for us to consider.
Michael Moran, Curator
Murray Art Museum Albury
Polar Convergence presents photographic works of the Arctic by Rohan Hutchinson and sound works of Antarctica by Philip Samartzis.
Hutchinson captures the tonality of the Arctic winter, transforming large-scale pristine landscape images into violent, mutable abstractions. Samartzis focuses on the sounds and spaces of the Antarctic continent where volatile weather and extreme climate collide with fragile ecologies and remote settlements. These soundscapes introduce a spectral Antarctica by channelling natural, human and geophysical forces; while Hutchinson’s blackened landscapes provide a heightened sense of urgency to preserve. Together, these two bodies of polar research introduce us to the places that operate at the margins of the planet.
The first part of Hutchinson’s works were created whilst travelling across the ice by snowmobile; from the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. Here, he documented the vastness of the Arctic landscape. On his return to Melbourne, Hutchinson used these initial landscapes as a canvas on which he painted liquid light (a liquid photographic emulsion that reacts to light) and exposed the works to the Australian sun. Through this process Hutchinson transforms these large-scale pristine landscapes into violent, mutable abstractions. Blackened. Damaged. Side by side these photographic works speak of Australia’s impact on the Arctic.
Samartzis’ soundscape presents the natural, the anthropogenic and the geophysical. Volatile weather and extreme climate collide with fragile ecologies and human activity in remote settlements. The soundscape is comprised of three movements. The first consists of recordings of ice: icebergs, glaciers, the Antarctic plateau and sea ice. The second is a hurricane force blizzard recorded at Casey Station, one of three permanent bases and research outposts operating in Antarctica. The blizzard was the strongest ever recorded at Casey Station during the summer season with wind speeds of up to 100 knots. The third movement is a blizzard recorded in the natural environment of the Antarctic wilderness.
Together, these two bodies of polar research introduce us to the places that operate at the margins of the planet. Remote but impacted by human presence near and far.
Centre for Contemporary Photography
404 George St,
Fitzroy Victoria 3065,
The Manifesto of Rural Futurism
The Manifesto of Rural Futurism is a transnational project interrogating current discourses on rurality as authentic, utopic, anachronistic, provincial, traditional and stable, and the binaries that support such discourses: belonging vs. alienation, development vs. backwardness. A critical approach to rurality is necessary, today more than ever, to imagine other futures for rural communities, territories and places beyond the “otherness” vs. “identity” dichotomy. This exhibition attempts to understand rural areas as complex spaces actively immersed in the dynamism of encounters, flows and fluxes of contemporary geographies, and critically question modern discourses of capitalism and metropolitanism in which rural territories are marginalised and considered as doomed to oblivion.
The Manifesto of Rural Futurism is an invitation to experience rural locations and abandoned places as spaces in which to question our approach to history and landscape, our sense of living in a specific place and the relationship that we have with it. The sound of environments, spaces and landscapes reveal the challenges and territorial transformations that inform the ideology, infrastructure and biological ecosystems to which we form a part. In this sense, listening practices are deployed as a way to critically traverse the “border territories” of rural territories, challenging persisting notions about “inescapable marginality”, “residuality” and “peripherality”.
The Manifesto of Rural Futurism comprises sound and visual recordings by artists undertaking fieldwork in Southern Italy including: Daniela d’Arielli, Enrico Ascoli, Luca Buoninfante, Jo Burzynska, Enrico Coniglio, Alejandro Cornejo Montibeller, Nicola Di Croce, Fernando Godoy, Miguel Isaza, Raffaele Mariconte, Marco Messina, Mollin + Voegelin, Alyssa Moxley, Philip Samartzis, Vacuamoenia, David Vélez and Sarah Waring.
Curatorium: Daniela d’Arielli, Beatrice Ferrara, Leandro Pisano and Philip Samartzis
The Manifesto of Rural Futurism is supported by the Bogong Centre for Sound Culture, Liminaria/Interferenze new arts festival, Pollinaria, and the Contemporary Art and Social Transformation research group at the RMIT School of Art.
Polar Force is an immersive live performance by Speak Percussion combining custom built ice and wind instruments with Antarctic field recordings, set within a chilled inflatable performance space. This visceral and multi-sensorial work immerses audiences within an overwhelming sound world and performance environment. Newly designed ice-instruments are used to produce unique acoustic results, distorting as they melt and fracture to render ice into audible phenomena. High fidelity field recordings made in the Australian Antarctic Territory of katabatic winds and extreme weather events form the musical and structural foundation of the work. Philip Samartzis drew upon hundreds of hours of recordings he made during his two Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowships to underpin the work. Some of the recordings were made using an array of digital recorders placed throughout Casey Station during a 100 knot blizzard. Sounds of sea ice, icebergs and glaciers also feature in the performance. The field recordings are used to form a series of multichannel environments to provide audiences with vivid and tactile experiences of the natural, anthropogenic and geophysical forces shaping the frozen continent. Polar Force references climate change and global geopolitical tension including the exploration and exploitation of frontier territories.
Polar Force is the recipient of an Honorary Mention for the Digital Musics and Sound Art Category in the 2019 edition of the Prix Ars Electronica.
Polar Force is supported by the Australian Antarctic Division, Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria, City of Melbourne, Benson Family Foundation, and the School of Art at RMIT University
Muted Landscape explores the relationship between nature, industry and human needs. The work builds on the tension between what is seen and what is heard to challenge the viewer's experience and interpretation of the landscape. In Mänttä's [Finland] snow-covered forests and frozen lakes, the viewer encounters what appears to be a beautiful and unspoilt natural environment. However, embedded in this terrain is the industrial infrastructure that supports our daily life: high tension power lines, sawmills and sewage plants.
Moreover, what may look like a natural forest is an intensively manipulated agroecosystem subjected to sudden alterations, such as clear-felling, ploughing and pesticide treatments. These silvicultural operations cause substantial loss of biodiversity. In order to represent the mutable ecology resulting from the commodification of the landscape, Muted Landscape uses a process of visual desaturation to express a monochromatic territory devoid of diversity. Black is also inserted into the video to disrupt the temporal flow of the image to create moments of tension and dislocation.
Muted Landscape uses off-screen sound to further heighten the viewer's awareness of the landscape's hidden and layered elements. The soundtrack comprises environmental sound recordings gathered on location. They capture the often overlooked and unheard sounds of the terrain—the thawing lake, human movements, wind, power lines, and the distant sounds of the paper mill and sawmills. Headphones are used to immerse the viewer. They create an experience that allows the environment to unfold around the wearer.
The work was conceived and developed during a three-month residency at the Serlachius Museum. The fieldwork occurred in the forested area that borders the Lemmenpolku walking track and Lake Melasjärvi. My gratitude goes to the town's residents, who generously shared their perspectives of the forest landscape and its ambiguous identity oscillating between sites of nature and industry.
Muted Landscape—was created with the support of Serlachius Museums and the Mänttä Art Festival residency program.
Muted Landscape: 2020
HD single-channel video, stereo-sound
For monitor and headphones
A Futurist's Cookbook
This project emerges from a one-week residency I undertook at Pollinaria, a sprawling farm located at the base of Gran Sasso National Park in Abruzzo. The residency coincided with the summer harvest providing an opportunity for a variety of sound recordings of agricultural infrastructure, including complex machinery used to transform unrefined crops into processed foods. Most of the fieldwork was undertaken in the company of Daniela d’Arielli who navigated the winding and undulating topography while I searched for sounds residing in the dry pastoral landscape. During our field trips Daniela would photograph the places, objects and people we encountered. Often embedded in the landscape, hidden from view, shooting from a distance with a macro lens. The images accompanying the composition are designed to reveal the richly textured environments in which we worked.
The title A Futurist’s Cookbook is a reference to the provocative manifesto The Futurist Cookbook written by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, circa 1932 – a treatise that drew on food as a raw material for art and cultural commentary. Marinetti’s clever use of the cookbook format to advance collective artistic consciousness appeals to my sense of the absurd. In spite of the misogynist sentiments, perverse speculations and nationalist impulses, Marinetti’s musings provide shrewd observations of contemporary life. While the Futurists often privileged the urban as the bastion of technology, disruption and noise, the rural offers an equally complex soundscape of natural, geophysical and industrial sound. A Futurist’s Cookbook is an expression of the exuberant noise and dynamism permeating throughout the countryside. One as thrilling and sensual as anything the discordant city can utter. It is also an affectionate tribute to the regional traditions of Abruzzo, and the futurist farmers working to preserve them. After all only a futurist meal can lift spirits.
Transporting audiences visually and aurally to Antarctica, Floe 2018, draws on the atmospheric effects of the Antarctic landscape to create a speculative architectural installation designed in response to a sound work by Philip Samartzis. The architecture is a part of a larger body of work developed by Roland Snooks, director of the RMIT Architectural Robotics Lab, that explores the architectural implications of algorithmic design through robotic 3D fabrication. The translucent skin of the tower comprises seventy unique overlapping semi-clear polymer panels printed by robot.
The sound work was recorded by Samartzis in Antarctica. By recording and representing the many sounds of Antarctica’s constantly shifting ice shelves, glaciers, icebergs and sea ice, Samartzis challenges the perception of Antarctica as an unchanging landscape, suspended in time and place.
- Design Partner: Installation supported by RMIT University.
- Sound work supported by the Australian Antarctic Division, the Australia Council for the Arts, the Bogong Centre for Sound Culture, Creative Victoria and RMIT University School of Art.
Super Field is an immersive sonic and visual exhibition that highlights the work of Australian and international artists engaging with remote regions and their communities. In these places reside marginalised or displaced communities, extreme climate, endangered wilderness, and the corrosive effects of industrialisation. The works respond to a complex set of social, economic, political and environmental issues to deepen understanding of these places and their communities.
The Australian Alps
8–22 Dec. 2017
- Benoit Bories [FR]
- Jay-Dea Lopez [AU]
- Philip Samartzis [AU]
- Michael Vorfeld [DE]
- Matthew Berka [AU]
- Madelynne Cornish [AU]
- Matthew Quomi [AU]
A Surrender to Nature:
16–20 Jan. 2018
- Philip Samartzis [AU]
- Madelynne Cornish [AU]
Antarctica and the Arctic
23 Jan. – 3 Feb. 2018
- Natasha Barrett [UK]
- Lawrence English [AU]
- Douglas Quin [US]
- Philip Samartzis [AU]
- Jana Winderen [NO]
- Anne Colomes [FR]
- Madelynne Cornish [AU]
- Polly Stanton [AU]
International Wilderness Areas
6–17 Feb. 2018
- Yannick Dauby [TW]
- Hughes Germain [FR]
- Martin Kay [AU]
- Slavek Kwi (Artificial Memory Trace) [IE]
- Douglas Quin [US]
- Philip Samartzis [AU]
- Chris Watson [UK]
- David Burrows [AU]
- Madelynne Cornish [AU]
Super Field provides audiences with an immersive encounter of a wide selection of environments using 40 loudspeakers and an array of projected images dispersed throughout the gallery. Audiences will be encouraged to wander through the field of loudspeakers and projected images as they would a forest, navigating densities of space and discrete zones of aural and visual experience.
Super Field provides a platform to enable artists, researchers, scholars and curators to engage with contemporary global concerns to enhance understanding of remote ecologies. By provoking new ways of hearing and of seeing these spaces, such artworks can encourage a deeper sense of appreciation and advocacy for the places captured within them, and prompt us to hear and see other places – both foreign and familiar – anew.
- Dr Ben Byrne
- Dr Carolyn Philpott
- Dr Leandro Pisano
- Dr Kristen Sharp
Super Field is presented by RMIT Design Hub and Bogong Centre for Sound Culture. For more information please refer to RMIT Design Hub
The Ecology of Place
The Ecology of Place is a program of spatial-sound cinema events curated by Madelynne Cornish, Byron Huang-Dean and Matthew Berka. The presented works explore methods of representation used to render the natural and built environment. They draw from the areas of experimental film and documentary, sensory ethnography, acoustic ecology, electroacoustic composition and phonography. Within the framework of sound and moving image, these artists interrogate the social, material and environmental ecologies of the spaces we inhabit, furthering discussions of site, experience and the everyday within a cinematic context.
The program brings together newly commissioned sound compositions and moving image artworks from both established and emerging Australian and International artists, whose approaches range from the sensory to the social. Each artist contributes a unique perspective on local cities, suburbs, rural and remote wilderness locations. They provide a divergent set of responses to how we inhabit, engage and experience our environment and examine the ways in which ideas of place emerge, converge and re-form.
The Ecology of Place is supported by the City of Melbourne and RMIT University
Curated by Madelynne Cornish and Philip Samartzis – Phantasmagoria re-imagines and transforms Bogong Village into a world of shadows, murmurs and dreams. This site responsive festival uses contemporary art practices to create illusion and spectacle in order to trace the vanishing individuals and communities that have marked the Alpine region. It draws on local knowledge, historical documentation, artefacts, and folklore to help construct a social context and landscape ecology for artworks.
Phantasmagoria uses a range of technologies dotted throughout Bogong Village to explore different themes. QR codes will be dispersed to reveal a surreal and arcane world of imaginary characters. FM radio transmitters will be sending out different (his)stories of Bogong. A sound garden comprising embedded loudspeakers will create an overlay of sonic encounters of familiar and strange ecological and geophysical events.
Featured artworks include, video and sound works, installations, interactive artworks, site responsive performances, and an immersive sound garden comprising commissioned compositions.
Phantasmagoria is supported by the Australia Council for the Arts, Outdoor School Bogong, and Museum Victoria for their loan of the Federation Handbells.
Gabi Schaffner is supported by ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen)
Bogong ELECTRIC is a free site-specific exhibition and performance program focusing on the Kiewa Hydroelectric scheme. Curated by Dr Philip Samartzis and Madelynne Cornish, Bogong ELECTRIC is designed to investigate the relationship between the natural and constructed environment using artistic practices that thematically reference electricity within the process of production and presentation. The interplay between artworks and site will provide a diverse range of encounters and experiences for audiences. Bogong ELECTRIC will take place at Bogong Village and features a broad range of national and international artists.
First developed in the 1930s, the hydroelectric scheme is the first of its kind, and the second largest overall in mainland Australia. Since its inception it has evolved to comprise four power stations and attendant infrastructure including dams, rail sidings, substations and networks of tunnels and aqueducts for the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity. The scheme begins at an altitude of 1800 meters at Rocky Valley and Pretty Valley reservoirs where snowmelt is periodically released into an interlinked series of power stations and dams distributed along the Kiewa Valley starting with McKay Creek and followed by Bogong and Clover, concluding with the West Kiewa power station before its eventual release into the Kiewa River, a major tributary of the Murray River.
The Australian Alps produces 80% of Australia’s fresh water supply yet only comprises 1% of its landmass. While the bulk of it is designated as a national park, the Australian Alps are also the site of quite complex industrial and commercial enterprises including alpine resorts and hydroelectric power schemes. Hydroelectricity is posited as a sustainable source of renewable energy. Through massive earthworks and complex technical infrastructure, pressurized water is mobilized to generate the electricity required to power the everyday spaces that we inhabit. The range of infrastructure used to exploit the gravitational force of falling or flowing water including turbines, pumps, sub stations, dams and aqueducts and the manner in which they inhabit the natural environment provides a rich source for investigation for a wide range of artists.
The relationship between the natural and constructed environment used to collect and exploit this water supply is quite complex and variegated, providing a compelling subject for consideration given the current discourse surrounding sustainable methods of energy production. Bogong ELECTRIC seeks to expand understanding of the environmental effects of hydroelectricity by direct and indirect encounters of the scheme through installation and performance works, soundscape composition and Internet connectivity.
Bogong ELECTRIC is supported by the Australia Council for the Arts
Bogong AIR was a site-specific sound art festival staged at Bogong Village comprising presentations by Slavek Kwi (Ireland), Natasha Anderson, Jim Denley, Rosalind Hall, Alice Hui-Sheng Chang and Dianne Peacock. The artists undertook a five-day residency in the lead up to the festival in order to develop performance projects that responded to the acoustic and spatial dynamics of the village, its infrastructure and surrounding environment. Outcomes of their investigations were presented at various locations throughout the village on February 19 and 20. In addition to the live performances, Philip Samartzis presented Crush Grind, a 7.1 surround sound installation comprising his Antarctic fieldwork into extreme climate and weather events. Eric La Casa (France) presented a special soundscape work for headphone playback on Lake Guy. The performance and listening program was supplemented by artist talks.
Bogong AIR is supported by RMIT University and West Space