The Sixth Shore extract by Anne Fullerton

Some words about The Sixth Shore project by journalism student Anne Fullerton in 2009 (with kind permission)

…She is currently working with SymbioticA, The Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts, at the University of Western Australia, as part of their Adaptation project. The project invited artists to propose projects focussed around Lake Clifton in Western Australia and potentially to collaborate with scientists and the local community including local action groups. The project was launched to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s “On the Origin of the Species” and examines issues including the way in which some species stand to benefit and lose in the face of ecological degradation and climate change.

The area is a feeding ground for endangered migratory birds and the lake itself is home to the largest lake-bound thrombolite reef. Thrombolites, also known as stromatolites or “growing rocks” are made up of micro-organisms. There are significant claims that the Lake is increasingly threatened by fertilizer run-off and human development. As part of the Adaptation project, scientists, artists, engineers, researchers and students are toying with attempts to grow their own thrombolites in what they’re calling “the world’s slowest growing sculpture.”

Phillips’ own work for Adaptation, The Sixth Shore, will be a sound installation at Lake Clifton in which the audience wears headphones and walks around an area, creating their own aural experience. She will be collecting stories – both colonial and indigenous – from the area along with bird calls and bush sounds. The audience will have a different experience of the area’s history and ecology depending upon the route they walk around the installation.

“With my work I felt like the non-human, the non-speaking world was not getting perhaps enough of a representation… I’m trying to integrate all these stories so that you’ll get a layering of sound of different voices speaking, a mix of both human and non-human. I’m trying to map the different players around the Lake Clifton environment to persuade people to take the environment more seriously,” says Phillips. She also led a walking workshop for students at RMIT University which encouraged people to foster a relationship with the landscape.

“We asked students to sit down for at least 15 minutes, switch off their MP3’s and mobile phones to try and get them to concentrate on sounds,” she says. “The reason why I was interested in sound in this case was that it stops people thinking about generalities about the environment and makes them experience the specifics. Hopefully by that way they are given a sense of exchange with the environment.”…