World Listening Day 2016: Sounds Lost and Found

WLD2016logo-3You are invited to participate in World Listening Day 2016, 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 Ecology, La Semaine du Son, and Deep 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 “Sounds Lost and Found” from Lagos-based sound artist, Emeka Ogboh.

World Listening Day 2016’s theme, “Sounds Lost and Found,” calls on reminiscing, listening and observing what changes in our soundscapes have occurred in recent decades—be it language, nature, technology, music or even silence itself. For “Sounds Lost and Found,” we invite you to dig into crates of vinyl and cassettes, dive into digital archives, and engage deeply with memories and unheard languages to rediscover or identify these “lost sounds.” In doing so, “Sounds Lost and Found” hopes to spotlight the need for effective and accessible conservatory efforts to be implemented to preserve some of these sounds—whether those efforts include archival projects, changing our daily practices or supporting the preservation of indigenous languages and engaging with the keepers of and archiving fading oral traditions where that seems impossible. We can protect and celebrate sounds whose vitality can be vulnerable and fragile.

World Listening Project, Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology and Biosphere Soundscapes invite you to participate in World Listening Day 2016 on Monday, July 18, and through the week of July 16th-22nd.
Some suggestions on how you can participate and organize include:
  • Soundwalks or listening events in your local community, with a particular focus on natural and human evolution, human activity in nature and industry, technology and machines
  • Field recording trips or workshops
  • Site-specific performance events
  • Concerts curating compositions inspired by the theme, “Sounds Lost and Found” (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 and acoustic ecology including participation in the #SoundCon x World Listening Day “Sounds Lost and Found” virtual symposium on July 17-18.

Use the hashtag #WLD2016 to connect with other local and global groups participating in the World Listening Day 2016: Sounds Lost and Found and get involved.

Our planet continues to change due to human involvement and interventions. People evolve. Cities morph. Technologies advance. We can hear the planet changing. Our soundscapes reflect evolution; whether created by humans, machines or nature, the shifting presence and absence of sounds is affected by human activity in natural and industrial worlds.

Cities’ sonic identities are continually fluctuating as residential and commercial infrastructures develop. The resultant social dynamics of industrialization and gentrification sponsor variegated relationships between people and the public and private places they occupy.

Humans’ complex interactions with nature have encroached upon Earth’s autonomy and her anonymity. Phenomena such as pollution, deforestation and global warming are manifestations of natural processes; they are the aftershocks of industrial pursuits. Swaths of land have been decimated, dismantling animal ecosystems for human consumption and destruction. This reckless, shortsighted mode of interacting with non-human life has forced the retreat and extinction of many species, eliminating their sounds until there is silence.

Technological advances over the past several centuries, particularly in recent decades, have been astronomical. Of late, machines and media become obsolete before we have even become proficient in using them. These advances have impacted the acoustics of commercial and residential spaces with newer versions of devices designed with quietness in mind Sounds produced by older models are noticeably more obtrusive. Most of these advancements can be seen as positive, though some sounds we were accustomed to or fond of have become less prevalent or been silenced in our relentless push toward progress ad infinitum.

Some Questions of Inquiry
  • How do our environmental, social and technological perceptions and understandings of change exist within the spectrum of sound?
  • How do our understandings of listening and sounds morph as human intention and activity changes relationships between humans, the built environment, and nature?

This theme ultimately encourages awareness, a deep aural attention to our surroundings through the recognition of the variables that define the acoustic ecology of our lived environment, and a recognition that sounds of the past are different from sounds of the present or future.

“Acoustic Ecology and Ethical Listening” – City Creatures

logo of the Center for Humans and NatureOn Monday, April 28 my post on “Acoustic Ecology and Ethical Listening” was published on the City Creatures blog about animal encounters in the urban wilderness.

This coincided with the Forum on Ethics & Nature: A Cascade of Loss, an Ethics of Recovery, a symposium organized by the Center for Humans and Nature and the Chicago Botanic Gardens, on Friday, May 2, 2014. I led two bird-oriented soundwalks at the symposium, which had a focus on a focus on the ethical dimensions of conservation issues.


The Earth is Roaring


In Hobart for a week last month – the week after fires raged across the island state, consuming tens of thousands of hectares of land. Forest, homes, businesses, agriculture. Firestorms were claiming the mainland too, feeding on the dry country. In Hobart, stories were exchanged as disaster response mounted and someone tells me that, on the Tasman Peninsula, flames leapt a two kilometre strait on high velocity winds. Stories of survivors who just barely outran the rampant flames to seek refuge in the sea. My partner and I drive through that country after the threat was downgraded. Unable to find a suitable opportunity to volunteer to contribute to the disaster response, we ventured out, appreciating the importance of tourism to regional economies that are rebuilding.

Having been nestled in the cool comfort of the bayside city, where we attended a music and art festival that pulsed in an auditory world of experiment and hope, we were ill prepared for the scenes of devastation that remained in the wake of the voracious fires. In the tiny town of Dunalley, charred chimney stacks stood upright amid the cindered remains of homes along the highway. People walked through the blackened and ashen landscape, sometimes talking to others, sometimes alone. Sifting through rubble in some vain hope that something might be salvaged. The sullen quiet was punctuated by the machinic and vehicular sounds of rebuilding. Trucks sharply beeping as they reversed. Electricity wires being redrawn. Roads being cleared. It was deeply moving, even challenging – as we drove by the emergency centre, with its orderly temporary village of tents and cars, we were shaken. As we drove by a group of volunteer firefighters parked at a roadhouse, their exhaustion was palpable.

Smoke continued to plume on the mountain slopes further afield. The vast tracts of burned bushland were bereft, with no birds or other signs of life. There’s always silence after disaster strikes. The silence engulfs, like the roar of the disaster itself. Our own home state of Queensland had experienced extensive flooding in 2010/2011, when 75 per cent of the state was under water. When the flooding engulfed Brisbane, the news footage captured the roaring and churning brown river which was ordinarily placid and meandering. Last month, north Queensland experienced its first cyclone of the season – although minor compared to 2011’s category five Yasi, with its winds that roared across the ocean and waves that pounded the coast and clawed at the ground. After weakening into a rain depression, it crawled along the much of the eastern coast with howling winds and beating rains wreaking wreckage.

A while ago, when I was bike riding, a grass fire broke out; it quickly scampered along the bike path and into the dry wetlands. I was intrigued by the sound, by how hot and smoky it became in such a brief time, by how loud it became as it sparked from gently crackling to exploding combustion. Fire is part of this country’s ecology and our national scientific organisation cautions that we should accept fire as an ecological process. Australia’s notoriously extensive bushfires are inflamed by rambling winds, dry conditions and eucalypt bushlands. Their roar must be deafening, audible for kilometres. In Australia’s poetic imaginary, there is an unnerving acceptance of the land as one of ‘beauty and terror’, ‘of flood and fire and famine’. It has become an ingrained acceptance of extremes; sometimes it seems complacent. The acoustic ecology of disaster is issuing warnings in tune with the acceleration of climate change. The eminent scientist Dr Tim Flannery once said that should the western ice sheet of Antarctica break, it will be heard as far away as Sydney. The acoustic presence of climate change is heard in the soundings of biodiversity, tipping points, habitat destruction, extinctions, and natural disaster. It is heard at scales and ranges previously unknown. The earth is roaring.

Linda Carroli
Brisbane, Australia