Soundscape installation. Ponta Delgada harbour, São Miguel, Azores, Portugal.
Artistic residency award by the Invisible Places Symposium.

Shores is a soundscape installation in a boat, converted into an acoustic shell to transmit a collective sonic memory of fishermen. This project was awarded a residency in Sao Miguel island, Azores, by the Invisible Places Symposium. It was developed in collaboration with the community of fishermen of Rabo de Peixe and with students. The aural experience Shores seeks to value artisanal fishing as an important part of the cultural heritage of Sao Miguel and the Azores, which has been drastically declining. A boat was converted into an acoustic shell to transmit a sonic memory of the fishing community, on a soundscape travel through places and ecosystems of Sao Miguel’ shores.
Shores intervention resulted from a dynamic of co-creation. A workshop involved fishermen families and students in a process of soundwalking/salling, field recording and installation of the acoustic boat. It looked to encourage conscious listening across generations and a sonic connection with the acoustic environment.
An old abandoned boat was converted into a soundscape resonator, for its spatialisation. It was installed in public space to engage passers-by in listening to the vanishing reality of fishing. Shores’ aural architecture spatialised the soundscape with natural acoustic effects, according to its frequencies spectra. The wooden space’s resonance of the boat shell magnified environmental sounds to enter into sympathetic vibration with the audience’s body and mind. The installation facilitated an experience of affective attunement to self and the surroundings. Surveys report a sense of being in tune with the fishermen at sea, and an awareness of the diversity of the shores’ ecosystems and activities.

Note: as the soundscape was composed for the installation in the wooden boat’s acoustics and in relation to the harbour’s sounds, it was not reproducible through audio documentation. Some psycho-physical effects could only be heard and felt in the specific space of the installation.

Recorded with DPA 4060 stereo omnidirectional microphones. For an immersive experience, please listen with headphones.

Audience’s experience and feedback
In this experiment, I left a notebook to report on the public’s feedback. But given the specialised audience present at the Invisible Places symposium, I also conducted a few interviews, as this would provide valuable input for my research. Bellow are some significant comments transcribed:

I loved the feeling of the mixture of the outside sounds with the soundscape composition. There were resonance frequencies happening. I felt quite immersive, a physical experience of sound.

I’m feeling slightly dizzy from this experience. I wonder if it was because of the angle of the boat and the vibrations… When I got back to the ground, I actually felt like I have been at sea. I also felt I was part of a working energy, constantly surrounded by this motor sound, which was interesting, because I think we often forget about that presence. I wonder if the fishermen and the people would also forget about that sound. It is a barrier between us and the water experience. It comes out really clearly here.
I’m still feeling emotional. I wasn’t when I was on the boat, but I’m feeling it now.

I liked how the work is done with the fishermen, you can feel there is a respect for their work, for what they do. Not like someone that comes from outside, takes things, uses them and goes away. On the opposite, it feels like you were working together and doing something with the community. It seems you tried to learn from them, and for a continuity with it. The choice of the boat made all the sense, not just an obvious thing, but for the place where it was placed, the angle, the relation with the water, how it resonated, how you could go on the back and hear how wood resonates sound. I liked the particularity of how the boat wood structure resonated the sound of the sea so well, this took me on a travel.

I listened by getting in the boat and outside the boat by putting my ear to the wood. Quite different experiences of course. It’s really nice to hear the water bubbling through the wood. A close idea of what it would be like, to be at sea.

I felt a bit sick, you feel movement, as if the other boats around are moving.

It was like being on a real boat over water, some sounds are really taking you inside the water space.

I liked the angle of the boat, it turned into a big sound system. And I liked the interaction with other people.

You’re just there with the fishermen, in the sea.

I felt I was living your experience at sea. I was inside the vibration, it feels like it is really happening for real.

Peaceful, then violently sick, then peaceful again.

I liked the boat angle, I laid down looking at the sky and felt like I was sailing.

We need to have this kind of experiences permanent in public space, its really important to share this longer, to be part of everyday life.

(C. Martinho, Shores survey, April 9, 2017)

More here, minute 43

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