John Wedgwood Clarke and I were commissioned to create a new sound work by Invisible Dust, for an event called The Ocean Connects Us run by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation at Trinity Buoy Wharfe in London. The aim of the event was to explore ways of communicating the value of the ocean effectively, sharing what’s working well and potentially seeding new ideas and collaborations. It brought together NGOs, scientists, artists, and policy-makers on the 1st March 2017.
Our piece, Voice Over Water (VOW) is a poetry soundscape in three sections that explores parallels between human and marine-biological communication systems in the context of the River Thames at Trinity Buoy Wharf. If, through ocean acidification, the pH of the sea falls, as predicted, to 7.7 by 2100, then many aquatic organisms dependent on chemical communication will be effectively rendered blind. This is the central idea that Voices Over Water explores and seeks to communicate to a wider audience through a range of metaphors and procedures.
We chose three different locations: The East India Dock, a pontoon opposite the Trinity Buoy Wharfe Lighthouse, and Hungerford Bridge, placing the poet’s voice over the water at each location. We recorded both below and above the river’s surface, and captured many sounds, including a segment of Jem Finer’s 1,000 year composition Longplayer.