Aquatic ecosystems are complex acoustic environments, where species are reliant on sound to communicate and survive. Sound propagates underwater at different speeds, affected by temperature, pressure and salinity. The impacts of climate change are often visible in terrestrial environments, yet dramatic changes in aquatic ecosystems go unnoticed simply due to visibility. Increased anthropogenic noise and rising temperatures cause ecological disruptions that are dramatically transforming the acoustic ecologies of our oceans, rivers and wetlands.
This artwork is an immersive soundscape exploring the fragility and complexity of life in a world of sound and vibration. Drawing on a large database of hydrophone recordings from the Queensland coastline, this work traces sonic migration patterns and shifting ecologies from the smallest micro crustaceans to the largest marine mammals on the planet. The recordings focus around the Great Barrier Reef and K’Gari (Fraser Island), a major transitory point for humpbacks. The whale song adapts in response to changing environments and the recordings contribute to ongoing scientific research on the value of aquatic acoustic ecology in climate action.
This sound work immerses listeners in the depths of aquatic ecosystems and transposes infrasonic and ultrasonic recordings into perceptible ranges for humans.
Leah Barclay is an Australian sound artist, composer and researcher working at the intersection of art, science and technology. She specialises in acoustic ecology, ecoacoustics and sound art through research projects that investigate environmental patterns and changes through sound. Her work has been commissioned, performed and exhibited by the Smithsonian Museum, UNESCO, Ear to the Earth, Al Gore’s Climate Reality and the IUCN. She composes complex sonic environments, immersive live performances and interactive installations that draw attention to changing climates and fragile ecosystems. Leah leads several large-scale research projects including Biosphere Soundscapes, an interdisciplinary venture exploring changing soundscapes of UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserves, and River Listening, which examines the future possibilities of freshwater ecoacoustics in collaboration with the Australian Rivers Institute. She is a research fellow at Griffith University where she leads collaborations between artists and scientists through research in acoustic ecology and climate change.
Migration Patterns: From Freshwater to Saltwater 2018
Audio, 15 minutes loop
The Griffith Climate Change Response Program and Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre at Griffith University.