Clotted Life and Brittle Waters

This paper was written for the Hydrobotanics conference at The International Centre for Landscape and Language at Edith Cowan University 17 November 2009. It was published in Volume 3 Issue 2 of the Landscape online journal (Summer 2009)

Parasitic Dodder


This paper discusses the beginnings of a soundscape project, The Sixth Shore, at Lake Clifton in the Yalgorup National Park, south of Mandurah, Western Australia. The final endpoint of the project is a site-specific art installation at Lake Clifton where audiences will be able to hear on headphones a 3D sound environment composed of strata of sound recordings. The route that participants walk through the landscape will determine what they hear. The kinds of sounds involved will include in situ ambient sound recordings and birdcalls, sounds and voices from scientific knowledge about the environment, from human communities and from the local oral archive. The structuring of the project comes from the layering of six different timescales of differing ecological agents including birds, ecosystems and people. The focus in this essay is on just two layers: deep thrombolitic time and shifting shorelines. My aim in The Sixth Shore is to articulate the competing agents at Lake Clifton in a way that decentres the current environmental impasse to encourage new solutions to human-nonhuman interactions. Using the findings of scientific understandings of thrombolites and the sequence of changing sea levels and evolving coastal deposits, I then draw forth their metaphorical implications that in turn inform the composition of the sound world that I will be creating. As additional complexities are revealed I examine how ‘brittle’ non-fecund wetlands can be part of an expanded sense of place in Australia.


The paper contains colour backgrounds as well as images. A full 300 dpi resolution version is available on disk from the artist.