Braided Stream: Intertwining Soundscape Strata and Ecological Data in South Australia's Limestone Coast

Jesse Budel

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Abstract

Live streaming of soundscapes has in recent years become increasingly popular in acoustic ecology and ecoacoustics as a means of monitoring ecosystem activity and behaviour. This is particularly true of creative projects, where such livestreams is used in lieu of or in tandem with prerecorded content, often coupled with other ecological data sets that contextually inform audio processing approaches. However, where such projects employ multiple simultaneous livestreams, the soundscapes used are often from geographically separate locations, which overlooks the possibilities offered by a multiperspectival consideration of a singular site.

One such example of this latter approach is this author’s installation, Strata, for the Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre in Mt Gambier, South Australia. Comprising two systems—a three-tier microphone array at the Naracoorte Caves National Park (at subterranean, ground and canopy levels) and a counterpart speaker array in the Theatre’s courtyard (at ground, mezzanine and roof levels)—the installation draws together distinct soundscape layers of the Naracoorte Caves system. This paper discusses the employment and manipulation of multiple soundscape livestreams in the installation in Max 8, drawing particular attention to the inherent creative acts in streaming (with reference to Baradian agential realism) and the employment of complementary ecological data streams (such as BOM weather data) as a means of driving live audio processing. Potential future pathways for creative applications of soundscape live-streams, particularly those related to Arts-Science collaboration and community engagement, are summarily considered.

Bio

Jesse Budel is a composer and sound artist based in South Australia. He recently graduated with a PhD (with Dean’s Commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence) at the Elder Conservatorium of Music, The University Of Adelaide, where his research focussed on ecological sound art. Developing works for diverse media and spaces, Jesse’s concert works have performed by the Elder Conservatorium Wind Orchestra (AUS), the Australian String Quartet (AUS) and Corvus Ensemble (AK, USA). A previous Carclew Fellowship and Helpmann Academy Grant recipient, he remains highly active in the South Australian arts scene, curating both the Featherstone Sound Space and Murray Bridge Piano Sanctuary. Jesse currently serves as the Secretary for Australian Forum for Acoustic Ecology and World Forum for Acoustic Ecology.