For the second time this week, I ended up on my back in a dark room alongside a bunch of strangers doing the same. This time, it was one part of the exhibition Le Grand orchestre des animaux at the Fondation Cartier. The crux of the exhibition was thus this largely dark room, an echo chamber for the animal sound recordings of Bernie Krause, what he calls biophony (“the creature chorus of natural sound”). The experience is pretty damn gripping. In addition to the sound, there are visuals that materialize that sound in another form. The left wall is a kind of giant oscilloscope marking in long bars and real time the frequencies of different animals in the recording (each recording belongs to a different location); the front and right walls are an EKG-like recording instrument that keeps a trace of what the left wall measures. You’re surrounded in animal sound as sound, as flickering frequency bars, and as a ticker-tape-life recording that wraps around. The animals here are the active agents. As they come and go, they leave a sonic footprint on the walls, which both serves to identify them, but in a more direct way than through sight. You can hear many animals at once, and yet still hear them all individually at the same time. And there is none of that almost automatic distracting anthropomorphizing that all too easily hits us when we look at an animal. Some great sound for thought.
Project THE HUMANIST anthropocene
is a thought archive and workspace of Phillip John Usher (NYU) at the crossroads of early modern humanism and the problems and insights of the Anthropocene. Main Research Page.
ASLE (Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment)
Environmental Humanities (journal)
Resilience (A Journal of the Environmental Humanities)
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