L’art, désormais, opère in visu, sur le regard, dont le relais est indispensable pour artialiser à distance.. Alain Roger, Court traité du paysage
There are landscapes of sound.
This merits being said again, Out-Loud.
It merits being said out loud because landscape has more usually been understood as a visual artefact that most particularly solicits the seeing senses.
Indeed, according to a network of french thinkers, landscape becomes operational with the “artialisation” of the land. Artists transform the Land, which becomes landscape through the window of the Art tableau (or ode). The appropriation of the land through artists’ eyes –the production of visionary painting or writing of visionary poetry– ushers in and accompanies the birth of the landscape, as an overwhelmingly and essentially ocular cultural object.
The scholarly work of landscape philosophers and historians such as Alain Roger, Anne Cauquelin or Augustin Berque, while complex and more sophisticated than the one line citation I have provided here– have given us a diaporama of concepts through which to metaphorically grasp the land, not so much with the hand, but from a distance. (Almost as if the working body had disappeared, as the critical Yves Luginbuhl might note. But this is for another post.)
And yet there are times when we would do well to accept the invitation to discover the incredible immersive, skin deep density of the landscape listened to, should anyone be listening. It is partially the hedging bet of those over at the creative research into sound art of the University for the Arts London, to relocate sound as a veritable public and civic spatial concern. But it is equally a point of departure for those involved in Deep Listening practices, the legacy of Pauline Oliveros and Ione.
As for those who aren’t listening closely, someone else is: enter Bernard Krause.
Bioacoustic engineer, Krause (a trained musican and sound engineer) has been collecting soundscapes since the 1960s when a Nez Perce Indian chided him for not knowing anything about music. You can discover some of Krause’s work here or here. Particularly disturbing are his recordings of tremendous climate change related upheavals.
Let’s put it this way: They aren’t noisy.