Kim Cascone On Hydrophonia + Ocean Sound Art

Hydrophonia is a festival of hydrophone (underwater microphone) sound art dedicated to raising public awareness of ocean noise scheduled for October 29-30 In Barcelona, Spain.

Most of us are aware of the pollution around us. However, few are aware our oceans are flooded with  noise  from sonar, shipping, seismic surveys, military activity and more. The Hydrophonia Festival was founded to build awareness about ocean noise that is disrupting marine life around the world.

These artists and speakers are scheduled for Hydrophonia Barcelona 2010:

  • Tomoko Sauvage – Plays singing water bowls using hydrophones in place of microphones to tranduce the sound. Based in Paris, France.
  • Kim Cascone – Electro-acoustic composer based in San Francisco, California. Director of Hydrophonia.
  • Lee Patterson – Sound artist who records secret languages of underwater insects and plants. Based in Prestwich, UK.
  • Enrico Coniglio – Doing hydrophone recordings of the construction taking place on the Venice canal system. Based in Venice, Italy.
  • Emiliano Zeleda – Currently conducting research into the effect of anthropogenic noise on marine life. Composes electro-acoustic pieces using these sounds as source material. Based in Barcelona, Spain.
  • Mike Rooke – Conducts research of audio transducers of all types. Makes high quality research grade hydrophones. Based in Helsinki, Finland.
  • Lars Kinderman –Project manager for PALAOA: PerenniAL Acoustic Observatory in the Antarctic Ocean, which streams the underwater soundscape of the shelf ice edge in Antarctica.
  • Gianni Pavan –Professor of “Terrestrial and Marine Bioacoustics” at the University of Pavia, Italy.

Composer Kim Cascone, in an interview with Jack Hertz, had this to say about hydrophones and his interest in Hydrophonia:

I’ve been interested in hydrophone recording for some time now but it wasn’t until I stumbled across this book, How to Build & Use Low Cost Hydrophones by Frank Watlington, in a used book store that I decided I wanted to build one for myself and do some recording, since I live by the ocean.

Once I made a couple of hydrophones and did some recording with them I wanted to increase the quality so I did some research and found other artists also interested in hydrophone construction and recording. I was surprised that so many artists were experimenting with hydrophones of various types and using them for recording all sorts of underwater sounds.

I’m not all that interested in recordings of whales or dolphins but more in strange phenomena or processes we aren’t aware of. And that of course is when I learned about the growing issue of ocean noise and its devastating effect on all marine life.

You can read the full interview at See the Hydrophonia site for more information on the festival.

If you’ve got experience with hydrophones, too, leave a comment and let us know about it!

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