About the work
Over the course of nearly fifty years, Bernie Krause has collected more than 5,000 hours of recordings of natural habitats, including at least 15,000 terrestrial and marine species from all around the world. This trained musician quickly discovered the musical harmony and quasi-orchestral organization of animal vocalizations in the natural world. He is passionate about these natural musical compositions, or “soundscapes,” in which the sounds of the earth, including the sounds of the wind and the rain, also have their place.
Bernie Krause’s approach is unique. Contemplating the natural world as a poet, listening to animal vocalizations as a musician, Bernie Krause also studies it all scientifically. The analysis of the graphic representation of these soundscapes via spectrograms reveals that the sounds of the animal world, often perceived as nonsensical noises, are actually as carefully orchestrated as the most complex musical scores. The study of the acoustic organization of a particular ecosystem shows that at the heart of a soundscape each species spontaneously finds its own “acoustic niche.” Yet the observation of Bernie Krause’s soundscapes also reveals that the great animal orchestra, increasingly threatened by human activities, now risks being reduced to total and utter silence.
London-based studio United Visual Artists (UVA) imagined a visual translation of Bernie Krause’s soundscapes, allowing to listen to sounds and visualize them simultaneously. They designed a three-dimensional electronic installation, which is akin to the detail and complexity of a musical score, transposing the data from the recordings into light particles, thus highlighting the beauty of the sound environments presented. Their audiovisual experience offers an immersive journey through seven territories recorded by Bernie Krause, chosen for their ecological diversity and the richness of their biophony, from Canada to the Central African Republic, from the United States to Zimbabwe, from Brazil to the oceans.
In a movie sequence realized by Raymond Depardon and Claudine Nougaret projected in between the soundscapes of the installation, Bernie Krause explains more about his approach and how biodiversity has dramatically deteriorated in recent decades.
Combining aesthetics and technology, the installation The Great Animal Orchestra simultaneously offers an immersion into the heart of the sounds of nature, and a sound and visual meditation on the necessity of preserving the beauty of the animal world.