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World Science Festival Brisbane 2017

River Listening is an interdisciplinary research project exploring the cultural and biological diversity of global river systems through sound. The project examines the creative possibilities of accessible and noninvasive recording technologies to monitor river health and engage local communities in the conservation of global river systems. River Listening combines emerging fields of science with acoustic ecology, creativity and digital technology to further the understanding of aquatic biodiversity and inspire action at a time when the conservation and management of freshwater ecosystems is a critical priority.

River Listening installations, experiments and virtual reality will feature at the 2017 World Science Festival Brisbane in March as part of 100 Ways to Listen at the Queensland Conservatorium.

Leah Barclay Hydrophones

100 Ways to Listen is a new project exploring the art and science of sound and documenting a decade of innovative music-making in Queensland. 100 Ways to Listen features performances, interactive installations, immersive sonic environments and augmented reality sound walks. The events for World Science Festival Brisbane are presented by Griffith University as part of Street Science, March 24 – 26, 2017.

River Listening was developed through a Synapse Residency awarded to Dr Leah Barclay and The Australian Rivers Institute in 2014. The Synapse program is a joint initiative of the Australia Council for the Arts and the Australian Network for Art and Technology, which supports research collaborations between leading artists and scientists in Australia. The first phase of River Listening was designed to explore the artistic and scientific possibilities of hydrophone (underwater) recording and inspire community engagement through interactive workshops, recording expeditions and installations designed to draw attention to the sounds beneath the surface of the river.




Yarra River Terrace & Federation Square, Melbourne

Monday 8th – Sunday 14th Feburary // 9:00am – 11:00pm

River Listening is launching in Melbourne, Australia during Pause Fest 2016, a catalyst for innovation, a uniter of industries and a platform for the future. Six years ago, Pause’s founder George Hedon saw an opportunity to start bringing together a new breed of thinkers and Pause Fest is now established as a major international event for those working at the intersection of creativity, technology and innovation.

Melbourne’s first River Listening installation explores the Yarra River. The installation can be experienced by walking along the Yarra River with a mobile device and listening to content that is geotagged along the river bank.

As you walk along the path, the sounds of river system are layered with sonic art and river stories for Pause delegates to discover between sessions. In addition to the Yarra soundscapes, this experience will stretch through Federation Square with a sound map connecting to other river systems across the world.

Listeners will hear Amazon river dolphins as they walk down the steps and pilgrims chanting on the banks of India’s Narmada River as they look towards the sky. These sonic discoveries will explore the value of sound and technology in contributing towards environmental awareness and engagement.

As the recent documentary Racing Extinction highlights: if we can bring the sights and sounds of the natural world to humans who would otherwise never think about them, they might be motivated and inspired to alter their habits enough to take action and respond to the ramifications of climate change.

To experience YARRA – RIVER LISTENING, Pause Fest delegates will download the free app Recho for this exclusive Pause Fest experience.

The soundscapes will evolve with new sounds added everyday during Pause Fest. Follow @LeahBarclay on twitter for live updates onsite and join our daily demo sessions and sound walks by using the #RiverListening hashtag on twitter.

River Listening Augmented Reality Sound Installation – Leah Barclay

Step 1. Download the free app Recho to your mobile device and connect your headphones.
Step 2. Walk towards the first sound, your phone will act as a compass and guide you through YARRA RIVER LISTENING
Step 4. When you approach the first sound it will play automatically, tap the sound once to open it.
Step 5. Wait for 3-5 seconds (to load) and stop to listen to the soundscape.

Leah Barclay
Leah Barclay – River Listening in Paris – COP21, December 2015

River Listening at COP21


River Listening explores the creative possibilities of aquatic bioacoustics and the potential for new approaches in the conservation of global river systems. Join us in Paris to listen to live underwater microphones (hydrophones) and augmented reality sound walks along the Seine River.

River Listening inspires community engagement through interactive listening labs, field recordings, sound maps, immersive performances, interactive sound installations and virtual reality experiences. It combines digital technologies and creativity to connect communities and inspire environmental stewardship.

At COP21, our sound walks along the Seine will allow you to listen to the rivers of the world. Discover the Amazon River Dolphin in central Brazil, pilgrims chanting at dusk on the banks of the Pamba in southern India or Indigenous elders speaking about iconic rivers across Australia. River Listening explores rivers as the lifeblood of communities and underscores the value of listening in our current state of ecological uncertainty, weaving diverse cultural and natural soundscapes along the banks of the Seine River.

To experience River Listening in Paris you will need a mobile device and headphones. You can access the soundscapes via two free mobile applications Recho and Podwalk, with Recho being our core application for iOS and android users. The installations run 24 hours a day and can be accessed anytime throughout COP21. If you would like to join a guided sound walk or meet our team on the ground in Paris, please use the contact page on our website or follow #RiverListening or @LeahBarclay on twitter.

River Listening is supported by the Australian Rivers Institute (ARI), the Australia Council for the Arts and the Australia Network for Art and Technology (ANAT). The Seine River Listening Labs and workshops are led by Dr. Leah Barclay and Dr. Toby Gifford.

River Listening is a featured project for ArtCop21, a global festival of cultural activity on climate change to support COP21.

Visit our page on ArtCop21 

WIRA – Video Preview

WIRA is an interactive sound installation that reimagines the world beneath the surface of the Noosa River for Floating Land 2015 at the Noosa Regional Gallery in Queensland, Australia. The installation opened on August 27 and runs until October 18. This is one of the first major create outcomes from River Listening.

This video preview explains the project.

WIRA – Floating Land 2015 from Leah Barclay on Vimeo.

WIRA can be experienced by walking along the river with a smart phone and listening to content that is geotagged from Noosa Regional Gallery to the river mouth. As you walk along the river bank, the sounds of the Noosa River system are layered with sonic art, stories and soundscapes from Floating Land over the last ten years.

Subterranean Sketch #WLD2015

Subterranean Sketch was composed for the Sonic Terrain compilation for World Listening Day 2015. The compilation features over 40 new works using recordings of water as source material for experimental compositions.

Listening to Subterranean Sketch on Soundcloud here, the entire compilation is available from Sonic Terrain here.

This piece draws on a series of short hydrophone recordings from bodies of water across Australia, Cambodia, India and the USA. The recordings were made during the River Listening project, an art-science investigation into the creative possibilities of aquatic bioacoustics and the potential for new approaches in the management and conservation of global river systems.


This year’s theme for World Listening Day was “H2O”.

The global water crisis means 750 million people around the world lack access to safe water. Water is rapidly becoming the commodity of the 21st century and the catastrophic effects of climate change often involve negative associations with water. Rising sea levels, devastating floods, melting ice in Antarctica and droughts spreading throughout the globe, all highlight our increasingly unpredictable and extreme relationship with water.

Yet H2O is vital for life, water covers 71% of the Earth’s surface, and 60% of our bodies are made of water. Oceans, rivers and lakes are the core of many of the world’s iconic cities and historically civilizations formed around water. Indigenous communities across the globe believe water is at the core of our existence. For thousands of years communities have lived sustainably by holding significant cultural and spiritual value of rivers, lakes and oceans.

National Science Week 2015


National Science Week is Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology. Running each year in August, it features more than 1000 events around Australia, including those delivered by universities, schools, research institutions, libraries, museums and science centres. These events attract a wide audience from children to adults, and science amateurs to professionals. Over one million people participate in science events across the nation.

Estalished in 1997, National Science Week provides an opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of Australian scientists’ to the world of knowledge. It also aims to encourage an interest in science pursuits among the general public, and to encourage younger people to be fascinated by the world we live in.

As part of National Science Week, River Listening is hosting events along the Brisbane River in collaboration with IGNITE.

IGNITE Celebrate National Science Week across the Cultural Precinct in SouthBank.

River Listening Sound Walks

When Sunday 16 August 10am, 12pm, 2pm

Where Meet in the Queensland Museum Level 2 in front of the cloakroom desk at the National Science Week Banner.

Cost Free

River Listening is an interdisciplinary project exploring the art and science of listening to rivers. Join the River Listening team on a sound walk along the Brisbane river to learn about the project and explore aquatic soundscapes. Participants will also experience a demo of the River Listening sound installation and explore a hidden world of sound throughout South Bank Parklands.


World Listening Day 2015


You are invited to participate in World Listening Day 2015, an annual global event held on July 18.

The purposes of World Listening Day are to:

  • Celebrate the listening practices of the world and the ecology of its acoustic environments;
  • Raise awareness about the growing number of individual and group efforts that creatively explore Acoustic Ecology based on the pioneering efforts of the World Soundscape Project, World Forum for Acoustic EcologyLa Semaine du SonDeep Listening Institute, among many others;
  • Design and implement educational initiatives that explore these concepts and practices.

This year’s theme for World Listening Day is “H2O”.

The global water crisis means 750 million people around the world lack access to safe water. Water is rapidly becoming the commodity of the 21st century and the catastrophic effects of climate change often involve negative associations with water. Rising sea levels, devastating floods, melting ice in Antarctica and droughts spreading throughout the globe, all highlight our increasingly unpredictable and extreme relationship with water.

Yet H2O is vital for life, water covers 71% of the Earth’s surface, and 60% of our bodies are made of water. Oceans, rivers and lakes are the core of many of the world’s iconic cities and historically civilizations formed around water. Indigenous communities across the globe believe water is at the core of our existence. For thousands of years communities have lived sustainably by holding significant cultural and spiritual value of rivers, lakes and oceans.

World leaders believe we need to create a cultural shift in how we think about water. We need a better understanding and awareness of the value of water and we need to make critical changes to avoid the ramifications of the global water crisis. In the words of Sylvia Earle “even if you never have the chance to see or touch the ocean, the ocean touches you with every breath you take, every drop of water you drink, every bite you consume. Everyone, everywhere is inextricably connected to and utterly dependent upon the existence of the sea.”

World Listening Day 2015: H2O invites you to reflect on water, metaphorically in how you listen, or through creative events inspired by water and sound across the globe. The 2015 theme resonates at a time where we need to shift our collective thinking and actions towards water globally.

World Listening Day 2015 includes the H2O virtual symposium hosted onWaterWheel, an electronic publication, and hundreds of events taking place across the globe.

World Listening Day is co-organized by the World Listening Project (WLP), the Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology (MSAE) and Biosphere Soundscapes. July 18 was chosen because it is the birthday of Canadian writer, educator, philosopher, visual artist, and composer R. Murray Schafer. His efforts leading the World Soundscape Project and his seminal book, The Tuning of the World, inspired global interest in a new field of research and practice known as Acoustic Ecology.

World Listening ProjectMidwest Society for Acoustic Ecology and Biosphere Soundscapes invite you to participate in World Listening Day 2015 on Saturday, July 18, and through the week of July 12th-18th. Some suggestions on how you can participate and organize include:

  • Soundwalks or listening events in your local community, with a particular focus on oceans, rivers, lakes and catchments
  • Field recording trips or workshops
  • Site-specific performance events
  • Concerts curating water inspired compositions (contact us to connect with composers and sound artists)
  • Personal experiences of attentive listening or field recording
  • Educational events that relate to acoustic ecology, field recording, or a similar topic
  • Public talks or lectures about listening, water and acoustic ecology including participation in the World Listening Day H2O virtual symposium on July 17-18.

Use the hashtag #WLD2015 to connect with other local and global groups participating in the World Listening Day 2015: H2O and get involved.

Participation in World Listening Day is rapidly expanding every year. In this sixth year we anticipate even greater activity and interest.

Please join in the World Listening Day 2015 activities by emailing [email protected] about your plans and be sure to include “World Listening Day” in the subject line.

Please fill out the World Listening Day 2015 online participation form so we can promote your projects and include them in our documentation.

Please use our Quick Submission Form if you would prefer to provide brief details about your activities. It will only take two minutes! Thanks!

Balance-Unbalance 2015, USA


The Balance-Unbalance 2015 International conference theme, Water, Climate, Place: Re-Imagining Environments is aimed to provoke discussion and reflection on how the climate is changing and what our future might hold.  It does so by directing trans-disciplinary thought and action as tools for positive change.

Led by the arts and humanities, Balance-Unbalance 2015 international conference is a three-day conference which will took place March 27-29, 2015 at the ASU Tempe Campus, in Arizona. It brought multiple disciplines together with submissions from 24 countries and a keynote lineup of high profile presenters from businessart,music and acoustic ecology, the Red Crosswater research and community engagement with rain forest initiatives in South America.

The intersections between nature, art, science, new technologies, aid agencies and society are formed with the goal of developing cross-disciplinary initiatives using innovative art and technology to advance ecological awareness and sustainability practices to inspire wide-ranging community engagement in the face of unprecedented environmental challenges. Previous conferences have produced collaborations with the Red Cross as a competition for musical works in support of their global campaigns on Climate Change.   The 2013 conference witnessed the forming of a project to address the complexity of moving entire communities in the Pacific Island country of Vanuatu who are affected by rising sea levels.

Founded by Argentinian-born artist and scholar Ricardo Dal Farra in 2010 to promote novel forms of creativity that can help solve environmental problems, Balance-Unbalance has been sponsored by UNESCO, the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre, Leonardo Journal: The International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology, the National University of Tres de Febrero, Argentina (2010), Concordia University, Canada (2011), Central Queensland University, and the Noosa Biosphere in Australia (2013).

“We are living in a world at the tipping point, where the equilibrium between a healthy environment and the energy our society needs to maintain or improve its lifestyle and its interconnected economies could collapse more quickly than expected. Today’s delicate balance is at a critical point with the potential to herald a new reality where unbalance is the rule. The conference envisions the arts as a catalyst for reimagining our current environments.”

Leah Barclay is a member of the executive committee in addition to curating the virtual program for Balance-Unbalance 2015. She is also involved in a variety of events throughout the conference ranging from performing at the Art Gallery Opening to speaking on multiple panels about her latest research. Leah presented a paper on the River Listening project and outcomes from Synapse, the abstract in available here. The paper is titled “River Listening: Creative Approaches to Aquatic Bioacoustics in Australian River Systems”

Leah has also been actively developing several long-term Balance-Unbalance projects that will be presented in Arizona, including a project called CONNECTING COMMUNITIES, a new approach to the Balance-Unbalance 2015 Welcoming Ceremonies that connects the local community with the Noosa Biosphere Reserve in Australia and remote pacific Islands in the Republic of Vanuatu.

At Balance-Unbalance 2013, Lyndon Davis and Gubbi Gubbi Dance opened and closed the conference with a traditional Welcome to Country and cultural performance. In 2015, we are pleased to present a brief window into their rich cultural tradition with a welcoming performance on the banks of the Noosa River, at the exact location where we closed Balance-Unbalance 2013.

This is an opportunity to continue the conversation and respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land where Balance-Unbalance travels for each conference. The Leweton Cultural Group performing Vanuatu Women’s Water Music were a highlight for many at Balance-Unbalance 2013 in Australia and we have maintained an ongoing partnership to make sure remote coastal and island communities have a voice in global conversations around climate change.

Leweton Cultural Group hails from the remote tropical northern islands of Gaua and Merelava in Vanuatu, and live in a village in Espiritu Santo where they present, share, and maintain their unique cultural traditions and practises across cultures and generations. The Leweton Cultural Group has attracted attention from across the world with the mesmerising women’s water music and the energetic sounds of String band Matto.

These remote Island communities are experiencing the true ramifications of climate change and at Balance-Unbalance we recognise the critical value of engaging with Indigenous knowledge systems in responding to climate change. We are privileged to include the Leweton Cultural Group in Balance-Unbalance 2015, with a Kastom Ceremony and Water Music performance conducted in Vanuatu especially for the opening of Balance-Unbalance 2015. This video also includes a welcoming message from Sandy Sur, a community leader from Vanuatu and the Leweton Cultural Group.

We are completely devastated by the damage, deaths and destruction caused by Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu and shocked to hear that thousands of people have been displaced by this catastrophic cyclone. We hope to make some contribution to the affected communities during Balance-Unbalance 2015 and commit to working with them in the future.

River Listening Cambodia

In December 2014 Leah Barclay was invited to three UNESCO Meetings in Cambodia

– The 8th Southeast Asia Biosphere Reserves Network (SeaBRnet) Meeting

– The 2nd Asia-Pacific Biosphere Reserves Networks (APBRN) Strategic Meeting

– Asia-Pacific Workshop on Strengthening Capacity for Management of Biosphere Reserves and Protected Areas

During these meetings Leah facilitated two sessions on UNESCO biosphere reserves and also presented on the future possibilities of the River Listening project. Leah hosted a informal River Listening lab during the a field trip in the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve.

Ly Sophanna listening to the Tonlé Sap river in Cambodia.
Ly Sophanna listening to the Tonlé Sap river in Cambodia.

Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. It expands to 12,000 km at the peak of the rainy season and recedes to about 3,000 km in the dry season. The Tonle Sap great lake and its floodplain was internationally recognized as Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve (TSBR) in 1997 by UNESCO under The Man and The Biosphere (MA) program and was formally designated by Royal Decree of the Royal Government of Cambodia in 2001. The bird sanctuary at the Prek Toal core area has been often called ‘the single most important breeding ground in Southeast Asia for globally threatened large water birds’. Of the three Biosphere core areas on the Tonle Sap Lake, Prek Toal is the most accessible from Siem Reap and the most popular place for bird watchers.


Prek Toal Core Area regularly supports more than 50,000 waterbirds, and at least six migratory waterbirds meet the 1% criteria for EAA Flyway Site Network nomination.


Major threats in Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve are:

– Overexploitation of fisheries and wildlife resources

– Agricultural Expansion: conversion of the flooded forest to agriculture

– Deforestation for firewood and agriculture in flooded forests and watersheds

– Changes in water levels by dam constructions in Mekong River – Increased industrial/urban pollution and agricultural runoff

– Human population increases and rising levels of poverty

– Introduction of non‐native species

– Climate Change


To address these threats, the Tonle Sap Environmental Management Project (TSEMP, 2002‐2007), later becoming the Tonle Sap Conservation Project (TSCP) (2005‐2011), were funded by ADB and GEF and the counterpart fund. The main goal of the projects is sustainable management and conservation of natural resources and biodiversity through several strategies and practices including environmental management projects, rural water supply and sanitation sector projects, sustainable livelihoods projects, and environmental information database establishment. Although the project ended, Department of Wetlands and Coastal Zones, General Department of Administration for Nature Conservation and Protection in Ministry of Environment have continued the activities of the project in cooperation with Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Four key activities are implemented, including protection of breeding colonies of large waterbirds, stream protection, awareness raising for local communities and school aged children, and community support through ecotourism which provides income revenue for local communities.


Australian Rivers Institute Seminar

Leah Barclay was invited to give a seminar at the Australian Rivers Institute Seminar on October 31st, 2014. The seminar showcased outcomes from the Synapse Residency and future opportunities for this project.

River Listening is a research collaboration between Dr. Leah Barclay and the Australian Rivers Institute to explore new methods for acoustically monitoring four Queensland river systems: the Brisbane River, the Mary River, the Noosa River and the Logan River. The project has involved listening labs, field recording, sound maps, performances and installations to experiment with virtual technologies and community engagement in understanding river health and aquatic biodiversity. This seminar will introduce the creative foundations of River Listening and highlight Barclay’s collaborations with river systems across the world spanning ten years. River Listening fundamentally explores the creative possibilities of aquatic bioacoustics and the potential for new approaches in the management and conservation of global river systems.