Too much importance is attached to the writing of music, too much to the formula, the craft: we seek ideas inside ourselves, when in fact they should be sought from outside. We combine, we construct… we do not hear around us the countless sounds of nature, we do not sufficiently appreciate this immensely varied music which nature offers us in such abundance… And there, according to me, is the new way forward. — Claude Debussy, 1909
For most of us, the sound of our changing natural environment is predominantly words, most of them overwhelmingly negative: warnings from climate scientists, cynicism from climate sceptics, promises from politicians and stories from the media. A noisy environment that has led many to close our ears in self-defense. Yet recently, artistic and scientific approaches have emerged that experiment in recapturing our imagination, fuel our motivation, and help us to re-learn to listen.
As the fields of both sound art and environmentally driven art have gained momentum, and concerns around climate change increased, a number of artists began producing work, which lay at the intersection of these fields, addressing contemporary environmental issues such as biodiversity loss, pollution, sustainability, global environmental justice and climate change, through sound works termed Eco Acoustics.
Eco Acoustics is an emerging interdisciplinary science that investigates natural and anthropogenic sounds and their relationship with the environment over a wide range of study scales, both spatial and temporal, including populations, communities, and landscapes. As technology advances and becomes less costly, Eco Acoustics is becoming an important remote-sensing tool with which it is possible to analyze massive acoustic data sets and quickly predict and/or evaluate the effects of climate change on the environment.
With an interest in raising a consciousness towards the surrounding Alpine and acoustic environment, the Verbier 3-D Foundation invited sound artist Philip Samartzis to develop a sound walk utilising the practice of Eco Acoustics to consider the importance of listening to WATER.
From the cracking of frozen glacial landscapes to the whisper of melting permafrost, the artist has drawn on his archive of sound recordings from Antarctica, the Southern Ocean and the Bernese Oberland to produce a composition solely of the sounds of water within our changing environment.
During the sound walk different qualities and behaviours of water will reveal themselves, inviting audiences to consider the implications of changes occurring in places seldom seen or heard, yet central to the health and wellbeing of our planet.
The range of Philip Samartzis’ recordings paired with his on-site photography examine the impact of global warming and mass tourism demonstrated through increasing anthropogenic activity, the contraction of the Great Aletsch Glacier, and erosion caused by the loss of permafrost which together are affecting the region’s fragile ecology.
The composition is ninety minutes in duration - divided into fifteen specific movements - designed to be heard while walking through the natural landscape above Verbier between Ruinettes and Croix de Coeur.
Scan the QR codes located on the panels and cabins along the path to access a self-guided tour of the Sound Walk. Or download the 90 minute composition here and go at your own pace which can found in the Digital section of our website.
Eco Acoustics: Listening to a Changing Environment was curated by Alexa Jeanne Kusber and realized thanks to the support of the Commune de Bagnes, Musée de Bagnes, Téléverbier, Loterie Romande, Office de Tourisme de Verbier, Australia Council for the Arts, Australian Antarctic Division, Bogong Centre for Sound Culture, Creative Victoria, High Altitude Research Station at Jungfraujoch, Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology at the Zurich University of the Arts, RMIT School of Art, Swiss National Science Foundation, Madeleine Paternot, Jean-Edouard van Praet & Tappan Heher, Chalet Ker Praet, Le Dahu, Mountain Air, Ice Cube, Marilynne Geiger and Nicolas Combes.