Wetland Project: Painting with Microphones
Brady Marks and Mark Timmings transform the soundscape of a Saturna Island wetland into pure colour fields.
In Earth Week 2016, Brady Marks travelled to Saturna Island and joined fellow artist Mark Timmings to capture the sounds of the wetland beside his home. With sound engineer Eric Lamontagne, they produced a twenty four hour, five-channel field recording.
The artists then worked with programmer Gabrielle Odowichuk to develop an algorithm that metamorphosed sound frequencies from the field recording into colour fields in flux. The recording and algorithm serve as the foundation for the immersive audiovisual installation that opened at VIVO Media Arts Centre on April 20, 2018 and was exhibited until May 18, 2018.
Here is a peek at the work:
This video glimpses at five points from throughout the 24 hours:
- 4:00 a.m. – wind and frogs
- 5:30 a.m. – dawn bird chorus
- 4:00 p.m. – geese in flight
- 6:30 p.m. – foraging woodpecker
- 8:45 p.m. – frogs and airplane
Spectators enter the Wetland installation to witness the spontaneity and vitality of the wetland creatures and their environment, revealed as the 24-hour sound loop follows a full cycle of the circadian rhythm. The unpredictable flow of sounds and colours exhibits a strict, yet imperfect, correspondence realized by the technology.
The installation examines three critical pathways: soundscape and its importance to environmental awareness; algorithms and their power and fallibility to render natural phenomena; and visualization and its connection to traditions of landscape and colour-field painting.
The installation is synched exactly with real time. If you experience the installation at 6 a.m., the soundscape is playing what happened at 6 a.m. If you are experiencing it at 10 p.m., the soundscape is playing sounds that occurred in the wetland at 10 p.m.
To give people this full experience, one of the closing events was a sleepover in the gallery. From Friday, May 18 to Saturday, May 19, guests were invited to the 24-hour Exhibition, Sleepover and Breakfast; to bring their sleeping bags and stay, to get the full experience of the wetland as Brady and Mark recorded it.
There was also a radio broadcast, musical performances, and a soundwalk, lunch and talk as part of the events programming.
Artists: Brady Marks and Mark Timmings
Recording engineer: Eric Lamontagne
Programmer: Gabrielle Odowichuk, Limbic Media
Videographer: Ash Tanasiychuk, VANDOCUMENT
For more information, visit the Wetland Project’s Audiovisual Installation page. It includes mockups, renderings, explanations of the soundscape and the algorithms, and inspiration.
The Wetland Project commemorates the 50-year anniversary of the founding of the World Soundscape Project (WSP) by Canadian writer and composer R. Murray Schafer at Simon Fraser University. WSP members initiated the discipline of Acoustic Ecology by studying, through active listening, the relationship between humans and their environment.
Founder of VANDOCUMENT. Photographer, illustrator, lover and supporter of arts & culture.