17


release date: 27 april 2021

guest episode: Jeff Doring

For this weeks program, I sat down with Jeff Doring, an artist, musician, photographer, author, raconteur, conservationist and filmmaker.

In the late 1960s and early ‘70s, Jeff spent time in Papua and New Guinea working as a Nagra-lugging sound recordist, firstly for a New York documentary production company. Shortly after, he returned as director and sound recordist in the making of his feature-length observational documentary ‘Tidikawa and Friends’.

This award-winning project offered the world an uninterpreted filmic encounter with the ancient self-sufficient rainforest lifeworld of the biami or bedamini people, at a moment when colonial impact had only very recently reached them. The principal figure followed in the film is the charismatic seance-leader Tidikawa.

A couple of years ago it was revealed that the original reel-to-reel magnetic tapes Jeff recorded for Tidikawa and Friends still existed.

This program presents just one of those dozens of 100-foot tapes, a field recording of an evening seance in Tidikawa’s rainforest garden hut surrounded by village men and boys. Before the recording, Jeff reminisces about that night of 50 years ago, introduces the main people involved and explains some of the context of the project. Remarkably, the quality of this recently digitised tape is as good as the day it was recorded – a testament to the analogue marvel of mid-20th-century sound engineering.

Now in his mid-70s, Jeff has lived off-grid in a bush hut and studio north-west of Sydney for the past four decades.  I spoke to him there, with generator evident in the background and surrounded by the calls of his beloved bush birds –  grey fantails’ squeaky trills, a wonga pigeon’s insistent monotone pulse, watery drifts of yellow-faced honeyeaters and many others…  

photo by Jeff Doring of Tidikawa and men in seance 1971

Link to a detailed review of Jeff Doring’s film ‘Tidikawa and Friends’ 1972

Link to documentation of an ambitious installation artwork by Jeff Doring 2016