Waterbug Voices

Photograph in marshes of Isle of Grain by Sarah Craske

Waterbug Voices is a sound installation that explores the underwater world of a creek in the marshes of the Isle of Grain. Interestingly, the soundscape is divided in separate wavebands. The lowest zone we can hear underwater is the industrial activity in the area, although we can barely hear anything in the air; this is because sound travels faster in solids and liquids rather than in the air, and low frequencies can travel very far through the ground. The rest of the wavebands are divided between sounds of water beetles, rushes and gas bubbles. Water beetles produce sound through stridulation, that is, by rubbing parts of their body together. Rushes hit and rub their submerged stalks with each other as they shift in the wind. Aquatic plants produce bubbles of oxygen through photosynthesis. All these ‘performers’ jointly, they create an extraordinary underwater orchestra. The installation presents these different layers of sounds separately, in duos, trios and all together to create a tutti of an unseen and often unheard world.

Waterbug Voices is created for the research project ‘(Un)used Space’. The first exhibition takes place on board the Historic ship LV21 on 20 November 2021, for the Being Human festival.

back to Compositions from 2000 onwards

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