[This post was originally written for the Bogong Centre for Sound Culture Blog while I was the artist in residence there.]
On the way up to Bogong Village from Melbourne, the drive was quite an experience. I’ve never driven on the left side of the road and I’ve never driven a car with the driver on the right, much less a manual with the driver on the right. Doing the majority of the drive, about 3.5 hours of freeway, two-lane, village and even some mountain road was quite the experience. Interestingly, instead of relaxing and enjoying the scenery I was instead completely focused on the road markings and signage. The signs vary a great deal in both design and language from what I am familiar with in the United States but since I have a background in graphic design, I really appreciated the experience. It feels as though I’ve developed an intimate relationship with the infrastructural signage of the region. Intimate in that traffic accidents can be harmful or deadly.
Along the way, we stopped at a variety of locations as we got closer to Bogong Village to put up fliers for the listening walk that I will be doing later in my residency. The places we stopped were all community hubs of some sort. Locations visited by many different people and for a variety of reasons. We posted at grocery stores, news outlets, the post office notice board, the village info centers and even an all purpose outdoors/hardware/cookware/odds-n-ends shop. The community notice boards at the post offices and info centers were rich tapestries of local activity. There is no shortage of upcoming mountain biking events. Looking for volunteer opportunities to help prevent the spread of an invasive species? There’s a group looking for help. Interested in learning new beading techniques? There’s two classes available in which the first will make a basic snowflake hanger and the second will move on to bracelets. In the market for a high-end, lightly used road bike? Call Mark at 043 234 7156 with any questions. Also, please keep an eye on these boards for the most up to date fire and fire safety related information.
The grocery stores used a system of cards that could be filled out and slid into tracks in the wall. It’s a complete system ready for posting. There was even a high-lighter to add emphasis to the handwritten messages on the cards. There’s Craigslist but there’s also the community notice board at the local IGA. They serve a similar function. They have about the same design aesthetic. Neither seems any more reliable. It’s a message in a bottle left in a place where people know to look. Connections can form and needs can be met. There’s a sofa for sale. Call me @ 043 234 7156. Lost, black lab. Answers to the name Ringo. Please call 043 234 7156 if found. Small reward.
As we found places to put up our poster (for the listening walk I’ll be leading later in my residency–you should try and make it if you can #shamelessSlefPromotion), I became interested in these notice boards as temporary snapshots of the surrounding communities. These boards could even be considered a temporary community of their own. Certain members of the community have posted communications that only certain other people are going to interact with. These messages are time specific events or will run out once a transaction is completed. If no action is taken, the object will eventually be removed to make way for the next. The messages are left behind for others to see at anytime. Some have a call-to-action while others are looking to disseminate information. They are all temporary and each contributes to the notice board as community, as artifact.
This is not unlike being engaged in an active listening experience of a recorded soundscape. Each experience is a glimpse into a larger whole at a particular time within a given location. There are a variety of sonic participants and the exchanges occur through space. A recording is not necessarily a reflection of the entire environment in which the sound was collected. There are sounds that define a community and there are sounds that are the community. Similar to the posted messages, these are evolving and temporary. They are forms of communication and expression. They may not be as directly functional but they can be equally as informative. There are parallels between interacting with the dynamic nature of the notice board and the evolving nature of the soundscape. Considering these both to be temporary communities with atemporal characteristics provides a framework through which a different type of engagement with recorded sound can occur. I’m very drawn to these places of residue where atemporal messages can be left in the same way that I am interested in listening and appreciating the fleeting, time-required nature of sound.
Heading into Bogong Village, there is a great deal of this place intended to be a temporary community. Even my accommodations as an artist in residence have been optimized for temporary occupancy. The majority of the structures are resort spaces and available for lease. The sense of community here is dynamic. It fluctuates in density with the seasons. It’s currently summer so the population of the village is lower and the activity level is somewhere down around “super chill” on a scale yet-to-be-invented. The evidence of the busy season is here as well. I’m interested in following these thoughts and observations about the temporary nature of these communities as my residency continues.