Guandu International Nature Art Festival, 2017
About ten years ago, I visited for the first time Guandu Nature Park 關渡自然公園. On that day, I was immediately invited to participate to the activities of organized by the volunteers of the park, then quickly I was included into the herpetology group, making surveys about amphibians in Taiwan. These activities and these people are without any doubt one of the reasons why I feel so connected with the biodiversity of this island. So, this year 2017 I was absolutely delighted when I was invited to participate to Guandu International Nature Art Festival 關渡國際自然藝術季, curated by Ellen Yi-Fen Jan.
My participation to the festival was double, I presented two on-going projects, and I gave this rather long but explicit title :
Something about the inaudible hunting calls of the bats and the voices and breaths of aquatic organisms
1. Chiroptera ( ( ( ^..^ ) ) )
The bats who are hunting their flying preys are making inaudible sounds: their voices are very high-‐pitched, the frequency being way above what human ear can perceive. This sound installation is based on on-site ultrasonic recordings of the Japanese House Bat, Pipistrellus abramus, one of the most common bat in Taiwan and present in Guandu Nature Park.
I started this project at National Taiwan University a few years ago. This time, at Guandu Park, I recorded the echolocation calls in four channel, this technique let me able to keep a trace of the trajectory, the flight of these tiny mammals. Those sounds were played with four loudspeakers, audience sitting in the middle could experience a very unique listening experience of bats flying around them.
2. Aquatic Organisms ◦o0° o0⦾° o0⨀° o0o°
Each time I visited Guandu I always have been wondering what kind of sound could I hear under the surface of the ponds. I have experience of using hydrophones and listen to aquatic animals and I wanted to introduce this very special sonic universe to the people working there and to the visitors.
Also, I had hope to start a little research project, identify the various sounds I could record. Unfortunately, except a few sounds such as plants doing photosynthesis and some snails feeding on plants, I could not find anyone that could help me identify the mating calls of aquatic insects. Some friends doing the same kind of audio-naturalist work also abandon, the process of identification being very hard. so this time, my piece was a montage of my favorite recordings and a voice narrating the process of listening and imagining the underwater life. Later I hope to develop this ecological research.
For now I can share this little selection :
freshwater from lakes, bogs, ponds, rivers, and stream
all contain lifeforms
a pond is
a small body of still water formed naturally or by artificial means
certainly easier to access than the deep ocean
usually very shallow
our human body isn’t able to swim there, we couldn’t even put fully our head under the surface.
but would you try?
hold your breath and listen to the sounds in the water nearby?
PS : During the festival, I was also invited to participate to a day of lectures related to the topic of soundscape : 聲景饗宴. The Soundscape Association of Taiwan has been working since a few years in the park, and they were presenting their acoustic survey work. I was introducing the practice of listening and field recording under the title “Navigating in sound”.
I do believe there is an urgent need to redefine more clearly what is a soundscape, what can we do with such concept… but that will be the topic of another article.