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Wild Creatures Take Over the Airwaves on April 22, 2017, when Vancouver Co-operative Radio Invites Listeners to Celebrate Earth Day with a 24-Hour Soundscape from a Saturna Island Wetland.
For years man has been pumping his affairs out across the wilderness environment. For once the natural soundscape would be allowed, in its wisdom, to speak back to us. — R. Murray Schafer
On April 22, 2017, Vancouver Co-operative Radio will broadcast a very special Earth Day presentation. The station will host, in real time, a twenty-four-hour recording of the soundscape produced by a lush wetland on Saturna Island, British Columbia. For the entire day, the airwaves will be turned over to the voices of creatures—frogs, birds, insects and more—for this exercise in “slow radio.” The Wetland broadcast will be the longest uninterrupted radio program in Canadian history. The presentation is created and produced by British Columbia multimedia artists Brady Marks and Mark Timmings.
We invite listeners from around the world to participate in this extraordinary event to celebrate Earth Day 2017. If you are in the Vancouver area, tune in at 100.5 FM from 4 am (PDT) on Saturday, April 22 to 7 am (PDT) on Sunday, April 23. Listeners elsewhere can visit wetlandproject.com to check for participating radio stations in their area or to stream the broadcast online beginning at 7 am (EDT)/11 am (UTC). The webcast will automatically synchronize with each listener’s local time and will feature an innovative soundscape visualization and interactive twitter display. Everyone is invited to add their voice to the soundscape during the broadcast by sending a tweet to @wetlandproject.
As an act of social and environmental awareness and activism, the Wetland broadcast exposes interconnections between the creatures in the marsh and you the listener in your homes, apartments and condos. Said Mark Timmings, “Make it the soundtrack to your day as you go about your chores and rituals. Witness the beauty of bird song when you wake in the morning and the chorus of frogs when you go to bed at night.” He explains, “Our approach is honest and lucid—plane noises have not been edited out. Given the environmental crises we face, it has never been more important to pay close attention to changing soundscapes and to let ourselves be re-enchanted by the natural world.”
The Wetland broadcast is a tribute to the World Soundscape Project (WSP) founded fifty years ago by Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer at Simon Fraser University. The members of the WSP initiated the discipline of Acoustic Ecology, pioneering the study of the relationship between humans and their sonic environment. In the words of composer, radio artist and WSP associate Hildegard Westerkamp, “learning how to listen and what kind of listeners we are in the world … is an environmental question.” She asks us, “How deeply are we engaged with the world through our ears?”
In his 1975 article “FM Radio as Observational Access to Wilderness Environments,” composer, researcher and WSP member Bruce Davis proposed “wilderness radio” that would broadcast sounds from a remote natural environment to the city. It would, in his words, be “a radio service which ‘listens in’ rather than ‘broadcasts out’.” This project would have impacted our relationship to Nature and our conceptualization of radio. His vision was never realized. The Wetland broadcast project picks up on his dream.
Visit wetlandproject.com for more information, including photos and interviews with Brady Marks, Mark Timmings, Bruce Davies and Hildegard Westerkamp. You can also explore other works in the Wetland Project in which Marks and Timmings, along with other collaborators, investigate the endangered marsh soundscape through musical composition and sound visualization.