Tag Archives: Leah Barclay

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.

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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.

#RiverScope

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is a new project for World Rivers Day 2015 that encourages people across world to share their rivers LIVE on Periscope.

Periscope is a new app that explores the idea of discovering the world through someone else’s eyes. What if you could see through the eyes of a protester in Ukraine? Or watch the sunrise from a hot air balloon in Cappadocia? A picture may be worth a thousand words, but live video can take you someplace and show you around.

Periscope is rapidly expanding, but its conservation and creative possibilities are yet to be truly explored. We want to connect people across the world to global rivers on World Rivers Day. As an experiment to launch this project, we are also going to explore the sonic possibilities of Periscope with live streaming hydrophones.

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Six Degrees of Separation Exhibition

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The ”Six Degrees of Separation” Exhibition at the Gympie Regional Gallery invited a select group of artists to explore climate change and environmental art. Leah Barclay was invited to showcase the latest installation from River Listening.

Key Public Events:

16 July – 15 August, Exhibition featuring River Listening

The River Listening installation is presented as a immersive multi-channel listening space where listeners can lie down immersed in sound with a river bed floating above their heads.

August 11th, 1pm, River Listening Artist Talk with Dr. Leah Barclay (also streaming live on Periscope)

August 15th, “Future Communities” Symposium
6pm at the Gympie Regional Gallery

How will climate change effect us?
What might future communities look like?
How can we be prepared for the future?

Join guest speakers Dr Marcus Bussey, Dr Leah Barclay, Dr Tony Fry and Zela Bissett, when these questions and more will be raised at this event held in conjunction with the exhibition “Six Degrees of Separation”, where twelve artists have responded to issues of climate change, whether real or perceived, in a variety of visual and auditory mediums.

River Listening (2015) Dr. Leah Barclay
Interactive multi-channel sound installation

River Listening is an interdisciplinary collaboration between Dr. Leah Barclay and the Australian Rivers Institute that explores the creative possibilities of aquatic bioacoustics and the potential for new approaches in the conservation of global river systems.

The project involves 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 immersive installation draws on hydrophone (underwater) recordings from the Mary River, Noosa River and Brisbane River in Queensland, Australia collected throughout 2014. The additional sonic material draws on fragments from Barclay’s previous rivers projects across Australia, Brazil, India, Korea, China and Europe. This includes the Amazon River Dolphin in central Brazil, water insects at dusk on the banks of the Pamba in southern India, snapping shrimp in Cambodia’s Tonlé Sap Lake and explorations on London’s iconic Thames.

River Listening is a sound installation that reimagines the world beneath the surface of river systems. Aquatic environments we often think of as silent are actually dynamic acoustic ecologies that can help us understand the health of a river. This installation explores rivers as the lifeblood of communities and draws on ten years of collaborations with river systems across the world.

UNESCO Masterclass Series

In February 2015 a new UNESCO masterclass was delivered as a dynamic blended learning experience for the Asia-Pacific region. Titled “UNESCO Biosphere Reserves as Learning Laboratories for Sustainability”, the program involved immersive masterclasses occurring in Australian Biosphere Reserves accompanied by lectures streamed live online. The program was developed by Leah Barclay in collaboration with UNESCO and provided an opportunity to develop educational tools to bring River Listening into biosphere reserves internationally.

The network of UNESCO biosphere reserves across the Asia-Pacific region offers a unique opportunity for synthesizing experiences and sharing knowledge in response to the ramifications of climate change. This UNESCO masterclass showcased the local and global value of biosphere reserves as learning laboratories for sustainability. It highlighted a series of projects and innovative ideas uniting the conservation of biological and cultural diversity. The initial modules focused on local issues exploring community engagement, partnerships and projects, while the concluding modules focused on global issues across the Asia-Pacific and introduced the opportunities for knowledge sharing, virtual collaborations and the future possibilities of creative technology in responding to climate change.

This masterclass identified a clear need to develop accessible tools that enable biosphere reserves to share their experiences. The Asia-Pacific region could act as a catalyst in inspiring international biosphere reserves to take climate action and one of the most critical tools will be the ability to creatively and collaboratively share advice, ideas and actions from other communities who have had similar experiences. Through this masterclass, the value and future possibilities of UNESCO biosphere reserves was deeply explored to showcase how these sites could have a significant impact in shaping local, national and international climate adaptation responses by engaging communities in interdisciplinary projects.

Underpinning this project is the opportunity to harness the possibilities of mobile technology and community engagement to strengthen the network of UNESCO biosphere reserves. The blended learning experience of this masterclass was developed through a process of research and experimentation to form the most effective tool kit to facilitate accessible education programs. The masterclass proved that embracing the possibilities of this emerging technology will improve cooperation and awareness of the Asia Pacific Biosphere Reserve Network.

The immersive masterclasses in Australia were hosted in Great Sandy Biosphere Reserve in Queensland and Mornington Peninsula and Western Port Biosphere Reserve in Victoria. These sessions included interactive demonstrations on bioacoustics and creative approaches to ecosystem monitoring. The immersive programs were supported by weekly live streams throughout February and March hosted on www.biosherelab.org through Google+ and YouTube’s live streaming platform. The live stream included a realtime Q&A session that leveraged social media platforms such as twitter and encouraged participants to connect online. Biosphere Lab (www.biospherelab.org) was launched as the online platform to host this masterclass and was developed in collaboration with Dr Leah Barclay, UNESCO and CONNECT Asia. The masterclass content was created by Leah Barclay.

Projects featured throughout this masterclass included Floating Land, an interdisciplinary art event in the Noosa Biosphere Reserve, the international Balance-Unbalance initiative exploring the role of creativity in climate change and a wide spectrum of projects taking an innovative and accessible approach to environmental monitoring. These include Rainforest Connections (www.rfcx.org) a project that protects rainforests by transforming recycled cell-phones into autonomous, solar-powered listening devices that can monitor and pinpoint chainsaw activity at great distance, and Biosphere Soundscapes (www.biospheresoundscapes.org), a bioacoustics project exploring the changing soundscapes of UNESCO biosphere reserves through creativity and digital technology. The masterclass also introduced emerging projects such as Racing Extinction (www.racingextinction.com) a global movement involving a team of artists and activists exposing the hidden world of endangered species and the value of connecting people to the sights and sounds of the natural world in order to inspire climate action.

As technology continues to become more accessible there are exceptional opportunities to explore the possibilities and continue connecting communities. This masterclass was an example of exploring what is possible, and it has been successful in engaging people across the Asia-Pacific region and across the world. The participation was focused mainly through Australia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia, but the live streams also engaged participants from Mexico to New York and New Zealand to Spain. This masterclass was not about traditional education, but exploring new dynamic models that combine global engagement with immersive experiences and leverage new technologies that are rapidly becoming accessible.

This masterclass highlighted the benefits of technology, creativity, culture and community engagement. It proved that communities must feel inspired, connected and supported when responding to natural disasters and environmental changes. The network of Asia-Pacific biosphere reserves opens up the possibilities for connected communities who value culture and think creatively in response to climate change. Biosphere reserves are highly critical sites as we move towards a future of environmental uncertainty. As learning laboratories for sustainability, biosphere reserves present an incredible opportunity to connect communities across the world in responding to the greatest environmental challenges of our time.  Communities of biosphere reserves must be aware of their local and global value, engaged in participatory projects and inspired to take action. This masterclass demonstrated that technology, creativity, culture and participatory engagement has the capacity to inspire resilient communities and shape a sustainable future.

Hydrophone recording in the Noosa Biosphere Reserve
Hydrophone recording in the Noosa Biosphere Reserve

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.

IMPORTANCE OF THE WATERBIRDS CONSERVATION

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.

THREATS & CONSERVATION CONCERNS

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

CONSERVATION ACTIONS

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.

 

2014 World Parks Congress

The IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 is a landmark global forum on protected areas. The Congress will share knowledge and innovation, setting the agenda for protected areas conservation for the decade to come. Building on the theme “Parks, people, planet: inspiring solutions”, it will present, discuss and create original approaches for conservation and development, helping to address the gap in the conservation and sustainable development agenda.

Dr Leah Barclay was invited to speak about the development of the River Listening project in the ‘inspiring a new generation’ stream.  Leah also hosted a demo of the River Listening sound installation and played hydrophone recording for the congress during a digital showcase. 

This ‘inspiring a new generation’  stream empowered the growth of an enduring global initiative for a new generation to experience, connect with, be inspired by, value, and conserve nature. It will bring the powerful voices of young people from across the globe to the Congress, along with key partners in the conservation community, corporate and social leaders, educators, and others, to share their experiences, perspectives, knowledge, skills, technologies, and ideas in innovative and creative ways, and empowering them to take leadership to ensure the on-going stewardship of nature. The stream will support a shared vision to connect a new generation to nature and ensure new leadership and engagement of young people in support of inter-generational partnerships for parks, people and planet.

The IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 will articulate the vital role of protected areas in conserving nature while delivering essential ecosystem services and position protected areas within goals of economic and community well-being, and demonstrate how this can be achieved in practice.

For parks, it will strengthen conservation targets whilst engaging a varied audience from government to general members of society who care about the health of our planet.

For people, it will engage with development sectors and inspire citizens to connect with nature.

For the planet, it will demonstrate nature-based solutions to global challenges such as climate change, health, and supporting human life.

For the first time, the Congress will collate and communicate the most compelling and inspiring solutions to global challenges. It will help create new sustainable commitments for protected areas across the conservation, development and business sectors. This will be the promise of Sydney.

www.worldparkscongress.org

River Listening Los Angeles

Leah Barclay has started a new collaboration with the L.A. River Corp to launch River Listening Los Angeles. In October 2014 she led a series of presentations with organisations in LA that are working on the Los Angeles River Revitalisation Plan.

Leah Barclay and the L.A. River Corp also did a series of River Listening recording sessions to start capturing the sounds of the Los Angeles River. The project will launch in 2015 in partnership with local organisations.

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River Listening recording at the iconic sixth street bridge on the L.A. River
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Recording the L.A River in Marsh Park with L.A River Corp.

The L.A. River Corp is a nonprofit whose mission is to ensure the 51-mile Los Angeles River integrates design and infrastructure to bring people and nature together. They champion river-oriented policy and sustainable public spaces, while creating innovative models for community benefit and participation.  

Listen(n) Symposium, Arizona

In October 2014 Leah Barclay was invited to premiere the River Listening installation at the ASU Art Museum in Arizona as part of the Listen(n) Symposium.

The symposium featured scholarly and creative presentations, including research papers, panel discussions, musical performances, installations, and sound walks and a welcome from Tohono O’odham musicians.  It provided a forum for a growing body of scholarship and creative activities on acoustic ecologies and sustainability issues of American Southwest desert.

The keynote address at the ASU Art Museum on October 16 featured Dr. Sabine Breitsameter (Berlin/Darmstadt), Professor for Sound and Media Culture at Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences.

The keynote was proceeded by a collaborative community engagement in making John Cages 49 Waltzes for the Tempe campus, a concert of John Cages Child of Tree by Simone Mancuso and opening remarks from Tamara Underiner, Associate Dean, Research, HIDA, and was followed by an opening reception at the ASU Art Museum.

The full day Symposium on October 17th, 2015, began with an opening welcome and blessing by “Kieg Mek Ne’edham kc Kehindam” from the Gu Achi District, Tohono O’odham Nation, led by Simon Lopez, traditional singer, curer, and cowboy.  It also featured presentations from the Chair of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology, Eric Leonardson and the founder of the Balance-Unbalance conference, Ricardo Dal Farra with opening remarks from the Director of IHR, Sally Kitch and a presentation and demo of the EcoRift system for Oculus Rift developed as part of the Listen(n) project to enable remote visitation to national park environments by the elderly and disabled.

The closing concert at the ASU Art Museum featured new musical works composed from the sounds of the SW Deserts recoded as part of the Listen(n) Project by leading acoustic ecology composers include Ros Bandt (AU), Leah Barclay (AU), Douglas Quin (USA), Ricardo Dal Farra (CDN), and Garth Paine (USA/AU).

The inaugural Listen(n) Symposium was hosted by the ASU Art Museum, the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts and the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. Funding support was received from the Institute for Humanities Research, Herberger Institute, and the Schools of Music, Arts Media and Engineering and International Letters and Cultures, ASU.

The River Listening installation featured throughout the symposium in the foyer of the ASU Art Museum.

“River Listening is an interdisciplinary collaboration between Leah Barclay and the Australian Rivers Institute to explore the creative possibilities of aquatic bioacoustics and the potential for new approaches in the conservation of global river systems. The project involves 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 exclusive installation for the 2014 Listen(n) Symposium draws on hydrophone (underwater) recordings from the Mary River, Noosa River and Brisbane River in Queensland, Australia collected throughout 2014. The additional sonic material draws on fragments from Barclay’s previous rivers projects across Australia, Brazil, India, Korea, China and Europe. This includes the Amazon River Dolphin in central Brazil, water insects at dusk on the banks of the Pamba in southern India, snapping shrimp in Australia’s Noosa River and explorations on London’s iconic Thames. This installation explores rivers as the lifeblood of communities and draws on ten years of collaborations with river systems across the world.”

Further information on the full symposium program is available here – http://listennsymposium2014.sched.org/

World Rivers Day 2014

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World Rivers Day is a celebration of the world’s waterways. It highlights the many values of our rivers, strives to increase public awareness, and encourages the improved stewardship of all rivers around the world. Rivers in virtually every country face an array of threats, and only through our active involvement can we ensure their health in the years ahead.

In 2005, the United Nations launched the Water for Life Decade to help create a greater awareness of the need to better care for our water resources. Following this, the establishment of World Rivers Day was in response to a proposal initiated by internationally renowned river advocate, Mark Angelo.

The proposal for a global event to celebrate rivers was based on the success of BC Rivers Day, which Mark Angelo had founded and led in western Canada since 1980. A World Rivers Day event was seen by agencies of the UN as a good fit for the aims of the Water for Life Decade and the proposal was approved. River enthusiasts from around the world came together to organize the inaugural WRD event. That first event in 2005 was a great success and Rivers Day was celebrated across dozens of countries. Since then, the event has continued to grow. It is annually celebrated on the last Sunday of every September. In 2014, several million people across more than 60 countries will be celebrating the many values of our waterways.

River Listening Lab on the Mary River
River Listening Lab on the Mary River

To celebrate World Rivers Day 2014 we are running River Listening workshops along the Mary River in Queensland in collaboration with the Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee (MRCCC) and the Greater Mary Association Inc. The first will be on Saturday, September 27 at Moy Pocket near Kenilworth and the second on Sunday the 28th, near Tiaro, much closer to the river’s mouth. The Mary River is just over three hundred kilometres long with several thousand kilometres of tributaries included in its catchment. For over two decades the MRCCC has worked to foster better stewardship of not just the river and its riparian vegetation but of the whole of the catchment.

The Moy Pocket Rivercare Day will be held just to the north of Pickering bridge and will include a riparian walk led by Marc Russell as well as tree-planting, natural regeneration and some freeing of young trees engulfed by Cat’s Claw Creeper. The property is part of the Connection Road Corridor which links the biodiverse Conservation Park on top of the Kenilworth Bluff with the Mary River. The day starts at 10 am and goes till mid-afternoon. The River Listening workshop will happen from 12pm-1pm with an introduction to the project and demonstration of the River Listening hydrophone recording kits. Participants will have the opportunity to listen to the sounds of the Mary River and make their own hydrophone recording that will be published on this website in November.

The Tiaro event on Sunday the 28th of September, will be held in the Mary River Koala corridor at Petrie Park on the Mary River just north of Tiaro town. Starting at 10:00 am, the event includes koala food tree planting, and the launch of a new publication by the Greater Mary Association about the creation of the corridor. There will also be opportunities to tour the biological control facility established to fight Cats Claw creeper around the Fraser Coast region. The River Listening workshop will run from 1:30-2:30pm with an introduction to aquatic bioacoustics, hydrophone demonstrations and recording in two locations along the river. Participation in the River Listening workshops is free of charge and the resulting recordings will contribute towards a community sound installation at the 2014 Mary River Festival.

Thanks to Tanzi Smith for inviting River Listening to participate in these events.

Snapping Shrimp

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The database of hydrophone recordings from the initial Listening Labs on Noosa River, Brisbane River and Mary River feature extensive recordings of snapping shrimp, one of the most common aquatic sounds captured by hydrophones. While I have been recording snapping shrimp for a number of years, I’m always intrigued to see the reactions when people hear the sounds of shrimp for the first time. Many of the workshop participants find it hard to believe a tiny creature can create such an intense sound.

Snapping Shrimp, also know as Pistol shrimp or Alpheidae, are found worldwide with over 600 species living in oceans, rivers and freshwater catchments. The sound they emit could be likened to a crackling fire, but has the capacity to stun crabs and fish and reach an impressive 218 decibels.

The snapping shrimp has two claws, one which appears to be disproportionately large with two unique joints that create the distinctive sound. The speed in which the joint snaps shut creates a powerful wave that results in the loud popping sound. The sound is generated by the collapse of a cavitation bubble formed in an extremely rapid closure of their claw.

Snapping Shrimp – M. Versluis, B. Schmitz, A. von der Heydt, and D. Lohse, Science 289, 2114 (2000).
Shrimp Claw - M. Versluis, B. Schmitz, A. von der Heydt, and D. Lohse, Science 289, 2114 (2000).
Shrimp Claw – M. Versluis, B. Schmitz, A. von der Heydt, and D. Lohse, Science 289, 2114 (2000).

A temporal analysis of the sound recordings and the high-speed images below show that no sound is associated with the claw closure, it is all created in the collapse of the bubble.

Although they are usually only 3–5 cm long, this family of shrimp is considered the loudest animal in the sea, which is an impressive feat considering the size of a sperm whale. When found in large numbers, the shrimp have the capacity to interfere with sonar and underwater communication equipment and also other aquatic species. 

Brisbane River, West End Ferry Wharf, Recorded at 3pm on August 14th 2014.
Brisbane River, West End Ferry Wharf, Recorded at 3pm on August 14th 2014.

It is rare to capture a singular shrimp in a recording, the soundscapes generally consist of a constant crackling and popping that will continue for hours. I have been observing the sonic changes in the shrimp sounds at different times of day, and also analysing how they react to other sounds in the river.

Hilton Esplanade, Noosa River, Recorded at 6pm on September 2nd 2014.
Hilton Esplanade, Noosa River, Recorded at 6pm on September 2nd 2014.

Considering there are 600 species of this shrimp worldwide, it is certainly a large area of aquatic bioacoustics that warrants further investigation. My initial questions revolve around the specific sonic characteristics of the species present in South East Queensland rivers. As the shrimp can interfere with sonar and underwater communication equipment, it would be interesting to explore how they affect communication and interaction amongst other aquatic species in Queensland rivers. It is also likely the intensity of the sounds they emit has an impact of other aspects of the river ecosystem. To explore this further I am planning to monitor other aspects of the river ecosystems at four contrasting sites. From a creative perspective, we are currently exploring concepts for a range of installations that will draw on the source material and allow listeners to experience the soundscapes in immersive contexts using transducers to produce the effect of listening underwater.