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GIBCA • Jana Winderen
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Jana Winderen

Survivors of the Water World (2011)

Survivors of the Water World – Measuring Pollution by Sound

I like the immateriality of a sound work and the openness it can have for both associative and direct experience and for sensory perception. I am occupied with unseen sources of sound, like blind field recordings. Over the last seven years I have collected recordings made with hydrophones, from rivers, shores and the oceans in Asia, America and Europe, and from glaciers in Greenland, Iceland and Norway. In the depths of the oceans there are invisible but audible soundscapes, about which we are largely ignorant. To add, the sense of listening to the understanding of the oceans’ creatures, I believe we can further our respect and knowledge of this hugely important and fragile ecosystem, by adding the sense of listening. I am also experimenting with different types of microphones to collect sounds which are not obviously recognisable, but give room for broader, more imaginative readings or sounds that are unreachable for the human senses. I use these sounds as source material for composition in a live environment or to create installations, currently also for film, radio, CD, MC and vinyl productions.  By listening with very sensitive hydrophones I suggest that you can measure pollution levels in a river. Insects and other invertebrates have different tolerances to pollution and they make different sounds. If an organic pollutant is present, bacteria will be in abundance and consume the oxygen in the river. The more sensitive invertebrates and fish will die first and later so will the more tolerant fresh water shrimp, blood worms or species like rattailed bloodworms. If high concentrations of inorganic pollution is poured into to the river, as happened recently when Akerselva river that runs through Oslo was polluted with 6000 litres of chlorine by the council waterworks, there will be no sound made by living creatures in the river for a long time.

 In this case I listened to the whole acoustic environment of Göta Älv which runs through the city centre of Göteborg, to observe the health and well-being of the river and its inhabitants. By returning to a river, lake or area of the ocean over time you can also record the variations of the sound environment in the specific site which will tell you about the life and the variation of life in the specific area. For survivors of the water world, performed at Röda Sten Art Centre during City excavations in June 2011, I played a concert with a 4.1 multi-channel setup with the audience seated around me. I used a live feed from a hydrophone in the river right outside to listen to not only organic pollution but also sound pollution in real time. The composition was based on local recordings, but also developed over a period of time with more imaginative elements and recordings of insects and fish from other locations in the world. For the installation at Röda Sten Art Centre, different sound works will be played in B-format from a 4+1 speaker setup.

Biography Born in 1965 in Norway, lives and works in Norway. Jana Winderen is an artist educated in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College in London, and with a background in mathematics and chemistry from the University in Oslo. Since 1993 she has worked as an artist, curator and producer. Her most recent sound works include Energy Field Installation and Scuttling around in the shallows for Galerie B-312 in Montréal, Canada, 2011, Between Dry Land, commissioned for the installation The Morning Line by Matthew Ritchie for the Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary which opened in Istanbul May 2010. In 2011 Jana Winderen won the Golden Nica for Digital Musics and Sound Arts, at Ars Electronica.

Photo: Hendrik Zeitler