Museum of Ecoacoustic Phenomena

Museums are traditionally places of silence. Artefacts displayed in glass cases become objects solely of visual contemplation, even though sound is a central feature of our culture and society. To tell the story of modern science, we therefore need to make more of a noise. To achieve this, we focus on ecoacoustics, an emerging interdisciplinary field that explores the sounds made by species in human-modified and pristine environments. Ecoacoustics also lies at the interface of art and science, providing insights into how we humans are modifying the world around us, and raising awareness of our role in environmental change.

Event situated in the Bournemouth Natural Science Society museum, as part of the BEAF Festival, May 4th and 5th 2019. The event included sound installations by Ambrose Seddon and Adrian Newton, soundwalk and editing workshop by Marcus Leadley and David Rodgers, sonic interventions by Lynn Davy and Adrian Newton, a lecture on ecoacoustics by Adrian Newton, and a programme of live and pre-recorded performances of sonic art.

Photographs below include illustrations of sound installations, and sonic objects. The latter were conceived as a ‘micromuseum’, aimed specifically at children. This was achieved by creating small museum cabinets, at a child-friendly height, from found materials and upcycled junk. Arcade-style push buttons were used to trigger sounds; these were chosen deliberately to appear familiar and inviting to children. In this we hoped to subvert the idea of museum cabinets as something untouchable and out of reach, but instead to make them objects of fun. Each cabinet played the calls made by animals presented in the museum, as a reminder that these were once living, breathing beings. One incorporated “shellphones” that played the sounds of the ocean when the shell was placed near to the ear.

Soundfiles from the event are available here: