june 2018

22jun10:4511:15Angela McArthur: [re]Sounding Balloon10:45 - 11:15 B: Studio 1

Event Details

[re]Sounding Balloon examines human non-listening to ocean environments, by asking listeners to expend effort in order to hear the installation’s sonic materials: hydrophonic and found recordings. Without effort, the local sonic world is primary, immersing the listener in a passive reception of the anthropocene. The installation’s materials present opportunities to acknowledge our interdependencies with opportunities to acknowledge our interdependencies with non-human systems, our past, and the potential for change through listening. Left untended, the installation becomes part of the sprawling anthropocene, rooted in the allure of humanist idealism, and the amplified nihilism afforded by technology. A helium-filled weather balloon, attached to a weighted pulley system, determines the listener’s sonic experience, via an ultrasonic sensor. Expending effort, the listener can hoist the balloon – counterintuitively – upwards, to hear what is below. The action of hoisting the pulley is akin to fishermen’s daily hauling in, of the ocean’s natural ‘resource’. The work employs fully spatial (dynamic binaural) sound.

This piece was inspired by infrasound recordings of the ocean collected from weather balloons at high altitude. These provide an acoustically unpolluted recording, for monitoring the ocean microbarom (for events such as nuclear explosions), which is otherwise affected by noise (including human-made). A metaphoric reminder of the efforts required to listen to watery environments, and hear the impact we have had on them. How can we connect to such warning systems? What might the consequences of ignoring them be? Why does it seem so difficult for us to acknowledge our crucial underwater systems, and how can listening be encouraged as an act of acknowledgement?


Angela McArthur is a practitioner, lecturer and PhD student, working with 3D audio for cinematic VR and audiovisual installations. She has worked in studio, live and location environments, and her work draws from the technologies, perception and aesthetics of spatial audio, to tackle an intersection of the three, with an increasing focus on the natural environment, and micro listening.



(Friday) 10:45 - 11:15


B: Studio 1

Dartington Hall, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EN