Vincent Giles, currently studying a Master of Fine Arts (Production) at the VCA, presented a sound installation Heard/Unheard: Flux on the foreshore in Portland as part of the Upwelling Festival. This was part of a residency made possible by the VCA & MCM Regional Training & Training Fund, supported by the State Government through Arts Victoria.
I am a “sound artist”. I work with sound. Be it instrumental, natural or electronic sounds, I design them, play them and compose them.
The installation was delivered through four speakers placed in zig-zagging fashion, creating a natural corridor of changing sound through which people could walk.
The idea of the work was a response to the Bonney Upwelling – a natural marine process during which winds direct surface water away from the coast, causing arctic water from the bottom of the ocean to be brought to the surface, bringing with it vast quantities of microbial life that feed krill and other creatures, which in turn attract blue whales and other large marine animals for feeding and provide the perfect environment for large-scale breeding.
I was looking for a way to represent this event sonically, to juxtapose the sound of the Upwelling against the sound of natural and urban land-based environments and the sound of the festival itself. In effect creating three “layers” of sound, indicating that the heard and the unheard are always in flux.
This work was created over the best part of a four-week artist residency with the Upwelling Festival. The majority of my time was spent doing field recordings in and around Portland (see top image), capturing the sounds of the space and time, and trying to find sounds that may not be recognised, even by people who live there.
The residential space – The June Hedditch Apartment – which also functioned as my studio, was provided by the Julia Street Creative Space organisation. It is an excellent space that gave me a perfectly located central base from which to branch out and record. Because I was in-residence, it also gave me the opportunity to become part of the creative and wider community, in a small way, and get a real sense for what the town is about which stimulated me to look for sounds in places I might otherwise not.
As part of the residency I organised to speak at the local TAFE, a primary school and a secondary school about my work for the Upwelling Festival and I also showed some of my other work, stimulating interest in how a career in sound design and composition can lead places.
I also ran a series of workshops covering basic field recording using smartphones, listening techniques and exercises, and computer music. The few people who came along – particularly to the listening workshops – found them quite profound in that these participants’ awareness of the sonic environment in which they live was greatly increased.
It’s hard to gauge how the community may be affected by the work itself. Input on the day was overwhelmingly positive, with people inquiring about the work and the individual sounds that were audible at different times.
Of particular interest were the cracking shrimp that I recorded with a hydrophone. This was the largest signifier of Upwelling activity that I managed to capture.
Above is a stereo mix-down of the four-channel work.
A version of this article originally appeared on Channel, the Faculty’s previous publishing platform.