These sound compositions by Philip Samartzis were produced from raw material recorded during three residencies in the Kimberley region of northern Western Australia.
They emerge from a series of residencies facilitated by Tura New Music to afford new encounters with the Kimberley through the deep listening practices of Indigenous people in communities of the Dampier Peninsula, Warmun and Kununurra. The sounds comprising these compositions are recorded across a vast and spectacular landscape featuring abundant wildlife, stark habitat, settlements and decaying infrastructure. A raw beauty radiates throughout this topography of dreams in which standard notions of time and space become entangled with oppressive heat and humidity to engender a densely textured atmosphere. Here listening is used by Indigenous people to register seasonal transformations, migratory patterns, social interactions, and alterations in landscape ecology.
While the Kimberley is widely celebrated for its remarkable natural splendour, there is another side expressed through pervasive wildfire, abandoned homesteads, and mountains of mine tailings that complicate the experience of Country. Anthropogenic sound produced by rusting fences, corrugated sheds, forlorn windmills, and conveys of road trains however are as important to its overall acoustic ecology as the Brolga, Jabiru or the Green Tree Frog.
The sounds selected for these compositions are informed by many conversations with Indigenous people in communities from across the region. They spoke with delight of the sound of the Boab and Rain Tree, and in awe of helicopters flying across Country, and with horror of the flood that destroyed Warmun in 2011. To the communities of the Kimberley, sound is a powerful signifier of place and an acute way of remembering. Listening with sensitivity provides a complex way to experience a profound spiritual presence resonating across time and space, and echoing back within the multitude of deteriorating canyons and valleys of this astonishing place.
Sound Recordist: Philip Samartzis
Sound Recordist: Madelynne Cornish
All through and as part of Tura New Music’s Regional and Remote Residency program.
In carrying out these projects with Indigenous communities, Tura and the artists acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands visited respectively being the Bardi, Gija and Miriwoong people, their ongoing connection to and care of the land and honour their Elders past, present and emerging.
For these residency projects, Tura partnered with, and thanks, the Djarindjin, Lombadina and Ardyaloon Aboriginal Corporations, Warmun Art Centre, Warmun Community Inc and Waringarri Aboriginal Arts.
The Residencies were supported by State Government of Western Australia through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, and The Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding advisory body as well as Healthway.
Established in 1987 as a producer and advocate of new music and sonic art, Tura New Music is a multi award-winning Australian organisation, paving the way for exceptional and curious encounters with unique sound worlds.
Parallel to our city-based programs, since 2001, Tura has been spearheading projects in regional and remote northern Australia. With a focus on the active involvement of Indigenous Australian artists and communities, our aim is to establish contemporary Australian music and sound art as in and of the place where it is created.
With Tura’s regional residencies and regional tours, we do this with the creation of unique works – both physical and sonic – brought about through community engagement, embracing local cultures and exploring bold and experimental music and sound art experiences.
Through our regional program, new Australian works and collaborations are created which otherwise, would never come into being.
As a result of long-lasting relationships built over time, Tura’s regional program enables, engages, inspires and connects communities through Australian sound and the cultural exploration of it. The unique works we create are our collective story.
About the artist
Philip Samartzis is a sound artist, scholar and curator with a specific interest in the social and environmental conditions informing remote wilderness regions and their communities. Samartzis is an Associate Professor within RMIT School of Art, and the artistic director of the Bogong Centre for Sound Culture.