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Sounding Batman Park

Using innovative sound-based techniques this research tests sonic correlations between the voices of urban birds and the sounds of infrastructure in Batman Park. The project is an exploration of ideas to be realized more completely in future collaborative projects.

By engaging with contemporary urban sounds as a ‘spoken language’ Catherine Clover and Jordan Lacey reveal the rich sonic space of Batman Park along the Yarra River between Spencer Street and Kings Way. This city park contains a unique sonic environment due to its mixture of constructed and ‘natural’ sounds. The sounds of elevated trains, trams, general traffic, boat traffic mixes with the sounds of urban birds, insect life and human voices. Many animals, particularly urban birds, choose to live with us in cities and because of this proximity they are often considered maladaptive and are labeled pests and nuisances. The sounds of the infrastructure of cities (buildings, roads, power supplies etc) are also considered unwelcome and are generally referred to negatively, as noise. The test will encourage careful public listening to the ‘voice’ of this complex urban site in central Melbourne to encourage a re-thinking of these sounds.

The project team will use recording, editing and playback technology to apply a ‘sonic filter’ to Batman Park soundscapes. We will use language-based concepts to draw correlations between bird and infrastructure sounds. Language uses a finite number of components (meaningless in themselves) to produce an infinite number of larger units of meaning (words and sentences). Our approach is to break down the sounds into their constituent parts (eg slowing down a bird’s call or the engine of an idling bus) and imaginatively working with, as well as challenging, the rules of language to identify points of connection and dissonance.

Test Sites provides the right setting for Clover and Lacey to initiate this collaboration. Given Catherine’s focus on the language of birds and Jordan’s focus on infrastructure sounds, the collaboration will contribute to the development of both artist’s individual artistic practices through a cross-pollination of ideas. The collaboration will catalyze new ideas and generate a large amount of raw material and the test will create many more possibilities that can be realized in future works including exhibitions, soundwalks and further sound research.

Image Credit: Catherine Clover

Jordan Lacey
Research Collaborator
Catherine Clover
Industry Partners
City of Melbourne
Date: May 2016
Status: Current