Faculty of Arts and Education, Charles Sturt University
Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)
Working within landscapes is an immersive experience, and there is an oft-mentioned sentiment of being “called” to a place or being drawn to a particular type of environment. There is also a sense of multi-layered histories when working within a landscape, with the history and features of the physical landscape intertwining with the emotional landscape of the artist. This paper seeks to interrogate how sound can be used to explore the cultural, historical and ecological aspects of place. The paper will explore the author’s own approach to soundscape composition in relation to sound artist Susan Philipsz, whose work layers fragments of the past and present through combining her voice and the immediate, everyday soundscape of place to highlight the ephemerality of memory. Philipsz’s approach will be viewed in parallel with the author’s own compositional work, with both approaches highlighting how elements of the landscape can be used as compositional elements. By being immersed in the environment and viewing the environment as an active interlocutor rather than as a passive resource, these methods invite listeners to alternative ways of listening and understanding place.
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