Between Dry Land, 2010

© Julia Barclay

Multi-channel audio work encoded for the 47 channel The Morning Line Sound System
37 min
Commissioned by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary

Soundscapes under the surface, invisible but audible – soundscapes which have evolved from the beginning of time. The acoustic environment of the oceans is an essential component of life for the creatures inhabiting the seas. Whether the sound of a sea urchin feeding (their ancestors date from the Ordovician period), a male cod calling out for a mate, the sound of haddock protecting its habitat or a snapping shrimp stunning its prey, water is an efficient transmitter of sound waves. Sound travels almost five times faster in water than in air, the speed differing according to pressure, salinity, the flow of the current and temperature. Creatures living in the ocean use sound to communicate with each other, to find mates, to hunt and to orientate themselves. Different fish and crustaceans produce different sounds for different purposes; you can identify the species by listening to the sounds they make. Fish hear with their bodies via nerve cells directly linked to their inner ear from the lateral line. Sounds from the environment, like the cracking of ice fifty meters under the surface of Disco Bay (Greenland), violent waves against the shores and beaches announce to the fish that the shore is close by. Underwater mountain chains in the Atlantic Ocean echo the calls of sea mammals. Soundscapes provide a three-dimensional “view” of their world. Very little research has been conducted in this field, which is surprising, perhaps, considering that the oceans cover more than 70% of our planet. As species die out so also does their sound imprint, without us knowing they were ever there, before we are even close to understanding them or their habitats. – the artist

*1965 in Bodø, Norway | Living and working in Oslo, Norway
Chris Watson and Jana Winderen in the interview with Robert Dornhelm
Jana Winderen and Philip S. Lobel on Unpredictability and Speculations, Lopud Symposium 2012