Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘whales’


Image: The Art Newspaper
Alexander Ponomarev’s underwater art project, “Alchemy of Antarctic Albedo (or Washing Pale Moons)” was said to be for the edification of whales.

Quirky art projects in quirky places call for quirky reporters. Adrian Dannatt writes entertainingly at the Art Newspaper about memorable moments experienced on a trip to cover underwater art — in the Antarctic.

“Typical barren beach; Joaquin Fargas putting reflective silver sheets over the rocks to try and help stop global warming whilst the young architect Gustav Düsing was busy with his white cotton tent, sprayed with water to freeze rock-solid like salt or Greek marble drapes. …

“Rather effective photo exhibition using special plastic display boxes on tripods mounted in the water and along the beach, the horizon line in a photograph next to actual horizon on the sea. …

“At 4 pm it had been a week since we first came up the gangplank and boarded this boat, now our dear old friend. All gather on the back deck for Alexander-the-Great, Pon-Pon lui-même to launch his own underwater art project, ‘Alchemy of Antarctic Albedo (or Washing Pale Moons).’

“These submerged lit globes will be lowered into the sea in order ‘to clean the moon ash.’ He happily admits that he is making this work just for the whales, typically generous, ‘they are a better audience than so many others.’ …

“Much masculine labour, heaving and pushing, to get the moon-balls out to sea, a sweaty, rather laborious form of three-dimensional poetry.

We went out in our Zods but of course could not see anything of the project because it was all underwater, made for the fishes rather than mere humans.

“However the two Argentine underwater divers, fantastic moustachioed veterans straight out of Hemingway, who had been very dismissive and suspicious of the whole thing, were actually impressed, touched, transformed by seeing the reality. Which makes it a successful art work by any definition, and the whales apparently surely adored it also.” More here.

It feels both silly and sacred. Like liturgical clowns.

Read Full Post »

Do you know about the “Great Animal Orchestra“? Rachel Donadio at the NY Times has the story.

“The bioacoustician and musician Bernie Krause has been recording soundscapes of the natural world since 1968, from coral reefs to elephant stamping grounds to the Amazonian rain forest.

“Now, Mr. Krause’s recordings have become part of an immersive new exhibition at the Cartier Foundation here called ‘The Great Animal Orchestra.’ Named after Mr. Krause’s 2012 book of the same title, the show opens on Saturday and runs through Jan. 8, [2017].

“At its heart is a work by the London-based collective United Visual Artists, who have transformed Mr. Krause’s recordings of the natural world into 3-D renderings. Imagine stepping into a soundproofed black-box theater whose walls spring to life with what look like overlapping electrocardiograms, representing different species’ sounds. …

“The installation includes recordings Mr. Krause made in Algonquin Park in Ontario, where he found himself caught between two packs of wolves; in the Yukon Delta, a subarctic area in Alaska, where birds from different continents converge; and in the Central African Republic, where he heard monkeys. He also captured the cacophony of the Amazon, and whales off Alaska and Hawaii. …

“Mr. Krause is a polymathic musician who performed with the folk group the Weavers and helped introduce the Moog synthesizer to pop music — including songs by the Doors and Van Morrison — and film scores. He hears natural sounds with a studio producer’s ear.”

Read more here about Krause and his efforts to get the word out on the disappearing habitats of his featured animals.

This article inspires me to pay better attention to the music of the natural world on my morning walks. So much beauty goes right over my head.

Photo: Tim Chapman
Bernie Krause on St. Vincent Island, Fla., in 2001.
 

Read Full Post »

I liked this story from the radio show Studio 360. It explains how recordings of whales making music were used by Judy Collins and others to draw attention to the plight of our biggest mammals.

“If you hear whale songs today, you might be getting a massage or a facial. Some recordings of humpback whales feature slow melodies soothing enough for spa soundtracks. But in the 1970s, whale songs ignited the passions of music listeners and animal activists.

“Biologist Roger Payne still thinks whale songs are the most evocative sound made by any animal. But he may be biased — he discovered them. In 1966, Payne got a recording from a sound designer doing research for the military on undersea dynamite explosions. Caught on the tape were some of the first recordings of sounds made by humpback whales.

“Payne became obsessed with the recording, and made a startling discovery: the sounds were repeating. That means that they weren’t just sounds, they were technically songs — arguably the most complex songs made by any animal. Unlike birds or crickets, the whales’ songs were ten minutes or longer and repeated without a break.

“At the time, whales were being hunted to near-extinction, and Payne saw the discovery of whale songs as a call-to-arms. …

“Over the following years, Payne pressed the recordings on musicians, composers, and singers, including Judy Collins. ‘This tall man walked backstage,’ Collins recalls. ‘And he handed me this little package’ with a tape of the humpbacks. ‘It was very emotional. …

“In 1970, Collins used the recordings on her album “Whales and Nightingales”, which went gold and introduced millions to whale song. … Collins devoted the royalties of those songs to Payne’s conservation work. …  Just as Payne hoped, these strange, evocative sounds inspired the growing Save the Whales movement, and by 1972 the US had banned whaling and whale products.”

More here.

Photo: Phillip Colla, Oceanlight.com
Humpback whale.

Read Full Post »

Asakiyume put me on to this offer from the nautical museum in Mystic, Connecticut. They have just finished restoring a whaling ship, and the public is invited to apply for the role of stowaway on its first trip.

Now, as we all know, stowaways stow themselves away in secret, against the wishes of the boat’s owners, but the museum has decided to put a new spin on an old concept.

Here’s what the Providence Journal reports: “Mystic Seaport is looking for a stowaway for its restored 19th century whaling ship. Whoever is hired will sail with the Charles W. Morgan ship next summer on visits to ports across New England. The stowaway will receive a stipend and will share the experience through videos and blog posts.

“The museum in Mystic has spent four years restoring the ship that was built in 1841. The Morgan’s last voyage ended in 1921 and is the world’s only surviving wooden whaling ship.

“The ship … will sail with a mission to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the oceans and its species.” More here.

Kind of counterintuitive to use a whaling ship to promote preserving the ocean and its creatures, but I guess no one is going to hunt any whales. Good thing, too. I read Moby You-Know-Who finally in 2010, and I wouldn’t recommend the life aboard ship.

Stowaway entries must be submitted via e-mail to stowaway@mysticseaport.org by 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on February 18, 2014. I like the idea that the stowaway is expected to blog about the trip. S/he just better not be prone to seasickness.

Update 5/11/14: Read here how the whaling ship restoration benefited from special timber stored upright in saltwater at Charlestown Navy Yard in Mass. and rediscovered during the construction of Spaulding Rehab.

Photo: Bob Breidenbach/The Providence Journal
Matthew Barnes of Mystic Seaport examines the billet head on the bow of the whaling ship Charles W. Morgan.

Read Full Post »

My husband and I are often drawn to New England’s older postindustrial cities, with their walkable town centers and their old brick warehouses. They are sometimes called Gateway Cities because for generations they have served as immigrant gateways into the American life. We explored North Adams, Massachusetts, with Suzanne and Erik a couple years ago, and this weekend we went to New Bedford with Suzanne.

Once the whaling capital of the world, New Bedford today is home to an anxious fishing industry, clothing manufacturing, and tourism. We went to the Whaling Museum and came out feeling glad that most countries are more focused on whale preservation than whale hunting.

We sought out Portuguese restaurants and sat on the patio near an outdoor fireplace at one place. We knew there would be Portuguese restaurants as Portuguese speakers have come to New Bedford for generations — from Portugal, the Azores, Cape Verde, and Brazil.

At our beautiful Bed & Breakfast, the hosts (who have spent most of their working lives doing economic development overseas with US A.I.D.) told us that a large Guatemalan community has grown up in the city. They said that most of the Guatemalans speak an indigenous language, Spanish being a second language for them. That’s a particular challenge when Guatemalans go to the hospital as none of the staff speak that indigenous language.

My husband and Suzanne and I walked around. We passed lively Pentecostal churches and a storefront church full of dancers and clowns. We noted lamp posts bearing inspirational banners on how to be a good citizen or how to volunteer. I include one on “Responsibility.”

We also liked the cooperative shops run by members of the local arts community. And we had fun checking out a salvage warehouse for cool architectural bits, here. Among other things, it has rather a lot of bathtubs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: