Bodies (listening to conversations between trees)

Image: Jordan Lacy

Installation of two suspended body-bags. Petrochemical fibres, plant fibres, iron and carbon alloy Dimensions variable, height approximately 3500 mm.

Exhibited in Translating Ambiance, Yarra Sculpture Gallery, Melbourne, 2019.

Poncho ran away from the path, down to the creek, nose down, hunting smells. I closed my eyes and took a moment to stop and listen. I could hear some birds, wind and leaf sounds coming from a few hundred meters north and south, and the murmurs of the soundscape beyond that, and the drone of traffic in Bell Street, a kilometer away. Beyond those distances, sound seemed to turn into feeling as I straightened my back and imagined  out my body into the world. Or did I open my body to draw the world in and through me? I lapsed into another state. The flow of words stopped and the larger part of my brain at the back of my head became aware, synchronising with the without. Then a tongue licked my fingers.

Sound artists who love nature can face a particularly acute issue. How to take the glory of the great outdoors, or indoors, or any place of listening for that matter, and give it back to the audience through the kilometers of wiring, algorithms, monitors, knobs, transducers, speakers, diaphragms, XLR connectors, gain stages, normalisations and digital conversion.

Whilst inspired by listening to trees whilst walking at the Merri Merri Creek, this work intends no metaphor or simulation and translates no experience or place or material—except in the mind of the participant. It champions receptivity and is not an instrument for doing anything. It manifests a situation of receiving some of the basic physical forces of the world which I love— sound and space, darkness and light, gravity and motion. You can climb into these body-bags, lay back and be enveloped. And if you’re open to it, be receptive, feel and listen.

Bruce Mowson, August 2019.

video: Jordan Lacey