The sounds of a changing landscape


In the 10 years since its establishment, Bogong Centre for Sound Culture has earned a justified reputation across Australia and beyond as an institution devoted to the theory, politics, aesthetics and technology of sound art. However, survey exhibition Notes from the Field is above all a meditation on the Centre’s local landscape: the Bogong High Plains and Kiewa Valley in northeast Victoria, home of the Bidhawal, Dhudhuroa, Gunaikurnai and Nindi-Ngudjam Ngarigu Monero peoples.

The exhibition features the work of 15 artists who have undertaken residencies at the Centre in the remote Victorian Alps. “Together they represent a range of responses to the region’s natural, anthropogenic and atmospheric characteristics,” says Phillip Samartzis who, in partnership with Madelynne Cornish, has run the Centre since its inception. Through “field recordings made across the region,” the exhibition’s sonic component captures transformations and habitat loss from climate change, wildfires and “the impact of new hydropower stations on landscape ecology.”

In addition to works installed at MAMA, the exhibition includes pieces commissioned for an accompanying website. Both platforms “explore the process of field work and how it is translated into final resolved work,” Samartzis explains, with the website expanding on “artistic processes, observations and field documentation.”

Samartzis and Cornish’s own work is exhibited alongside contributions from an international range of practitioners, from Denmark’s Adam Pultz Melbye to the American Shannon Lee Collis. But despite these global flavours, the exhibition remains a distinct expression of locality.

“Anyone who visits Notes from the Field will be struck by the way the region has been represented,” says Samartzis. “It reveals the unheard and overlooked, to render the Victorian Alps anew for audiences.”

Notes from the Field: Bogong Centre for Sound Culture
Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA)
26 February—27 June

This article was originally published in the May/June 2021 print edition of Art Guide Australia.

Preview Words by Barnaby Smith