Sonic nature of the wind – field recording workshop introduces unique artistic medium to regional artists

Photo by Lee Wynyard

Image: Artists using field recording equipment. Photo: Lee Wynyard

Last month Virginia Hilyard, digital video technical officer at SCA, led a two-day field recording workshop in Central West NSW for 12 local artists. The workshop was part of the Star-Picket project, a cross-cultural collaboration of Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists investigating Indigenous night sky stories and mapping.


Organised by environmental, art and education facility, the CORRIDOR Project and funded by the Regional Arts Fund NSW, Star-Picket will provide the local artists with new skills to experiment within their artistic practice through a series of workshops and field trips in both Central West NSW and Lake Mungo NSW.


Using audio recording equipment, Virginia demonstrated how the artists could explore the world of sound in the field using specialist contact microphones and hydrophones. Attaching contact microphones to fencing around the Riverslea Woolshed, the artists recorded the sonic nature of wind through the wire. The hydrophones revealed the underwater sounds of the Lachlan River, fast flowing with icy cold water released from the Wyangalla Dam.


“We started the day with a listening exercise, each of us blindfolded and led around the different spaces at the CORRIDOR Project - the vast woolshed, compact shearers quarters and the expansive surrounding granite and grasslands. Opening our ears allowed us to sink into the sounds of the environment around us,” said Virginia.


Reflecting on the experience, artist and workshop participant Vicki Skarratt commented: "Searching and capturing the invisible energy of sound, and using the recordings to communicate emotion was totally new to me.


“As a photographer, I communicate with images, so exploring the landscape, searching for detail I could not see was surprisingly powerful.”


Artists were also able to learn about Wiradjuri cosmology and navigation from experts Trevor Lehman and Larry Towney.


The project will lead to an exhibition in early 2018 inspired by the astronomical translations of the night sky in relation to seasonal land management activity and physical pathways, through oral histories by Indigenous Traditional Owners and Elders and more broadly star culture.


For more information about Star-Picket visit www.thecorridorproject.org/star-picket