Soundart und Radiokunst in Australien


a soundscape for the radio by Les Gilbert




Sounds from North Australia, from the Kakadu National Park, form the basis of the soundscape for the piece "Kakadu" by Les Gilbert. Les Gilbert, one of Australia`s most well-known sound and radio artists, works in the field of sound sculptures, multi-media productions and radio pieces. Gilbert, who lives in Melbourne, studied composition and fine arts. He also taught for many years and was artist in residence at many locations and has installed soundsculptures and environments at many festivals, on stages, in museums and public spaces in America, Australia and Japan. He had his European premiere in Linz at the Ars electronic 89 in the Donauuferpark. Gilbert generally uses natural and environmental sounds as the material for his sculptures, compositions and pieces. In order to record the sounds, he lies in wait for hours and undertakes extended trips in inaccessible areas such as the Kakadu National Park. Over recent years Gilbert has installed interactive sound environments in many museums, zoological gardens and aquariums, for example at the Sydney harbor. These sound environments offer visitors an interesting and multi-faceted experience of the exhibits. Based on and for this form of applied work Gilbert has also developed his own sound systems and loudspeakers, which react to passers-by or when they are activated by the visitors themselves. He used such equipment and loudspeakers at the Ars electronica for his piece "Kakadu". The speakers were concealed in trees, so that there were no unusual visual signals to prepare the visitors for experiencing a paradise of bird calls, which were actually activated by the visitors themselves. During the day, the sounds that were played were the sounds one hears during the day in Kakadu, while at night only the nocturnal Australian birds were heard. The birds in Linz reacted with very strong singing and calling, most likely to protect their territory against the acoustic invaders.

"Most of us close our ears for the whole day and live in a world dominated almost exclusively by visual signs. We move like deaf sleepwalkers through a vacuum. Our ears only register vital signals and messages. It is seldom that we are as happy about an acoustic impression as we are about an interesting visual impression. So we actually shut out a great deal of our experience of everyday life. Sometimes this is justified, as too many signals flood in on us. But this is often the case only because our society has devalued acoustic information. The pop music industry has recognized this fact and assumes that we will only perceive loud sounds. The ambient music industry dangles sounds at us in the form of music, in order to subliminally manipulate us and make us into better consumers and workers. Conscious use of tones and sounds as a creative and positive force for life has been destroyed to a great extent, just as listening as a creative act has also been forgotten. Our society uses sounds like pain-killers. Nevertheless, many people are not satisfied with this situation. In my work I try to make a small contribution to reviving the pleasure which is inherent in creative production and listening." (Les Gilbert)

The Kakadu National Park covers 20.000 square kilometers in the north of Australia. The closest city, Darwin, is 200 km away. The land belongs to the aborigines and is rented from them by the responsible park authority. Kakadu is situated in the monsoon zone, which means it experiences drastic shifts in the weather. It is known for its rich fauna, in particular for the large flocks of birds which congregate there at certain times of the year.

Soundart und Radiokunst in Australien
  •   Die Radiokunstnacht bei der ARS electronica (14. September)
  • "Radiokunst in Australien" (21. September)
  • "Sydney-Linz" (28. September)
  • "Kakadu" (5. Oktober)
  • "From Austria to Australia" (12.Oktober)
  •   Gemeinschaftsarbeiten australischer Künstler (2.November)
  • "Hundegeschichten" (16.November)
  • "Bell Transfer" (30.November)
  • "The Opera Crossed Purposes" & "Call of the Wild"(7.Dezember)
  • "Twins, Sept.1989" / "Currawongs" / "Solistice Quarry Piece" (21. Dezember).

  • 1989 CALENDAR 2