release date: 05 october 2021
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This weeks episode is titled ‘below’.
I’ve always been captivated by the eery-strange chaotic sounds made by floating pontoons moving in response to watery energies.
In mid-winter this year, I went down to a favourite pontoon that floats alongside the Sydney Opera House at a place named the Man O’War Steps. From the early 1800s, this convict-constructed sandstone infrastructure project provided a vital access point between sea and land for the British colonisers – after months of ocean going travel on wooden sailing ships, naval men and female convicts alike here put their feet on the earth again, to walk onto and occupy this land of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation.
At this boundary between water and earth, floating pontoons offer a sonic index of energies natural, artificial and historical. The everywhere apparent flows of change, the global energy of waves, the planetary energy of tides, the surface displacement of passing ferries, ships and boats, the arrival and departure of water taxis – all push, tug and displace the pontoon to sing its mournful song of screeches, wails, thuds and splashes.
I went to the Man O’War pontoon with a contact microphone to attach to the structure and a hydrophone to listen underwater. After an hour immersed under headphones listening to the aching song of the pontoon, I wandered into the adjacent botanic gardens where I encountered families fascinated by huge eels and nesting cormorants of a large pond.
So many connections…