Below are two variations of the collaboration with Kara, rendered from the indeterminate composition.
20-26th June 2013
The time spent in Hobart was an unusual one, as it was not so much a destination as a point of departure for a series of smaller trips around the outskirts of the city. Ruby was my travel companion and Kara was our host and my collaborator in this composition.
Ruby and I explored by car the beautiful and diverse surrounds of Bruny Island and Port Arthur. Much of the time that we were driving, and occasionally in other situations, we were recording our conversations – not for any particular outcome, but just as another means of creatively exploring. In many places around Hobart low lying clouds drape over the mountains and through the valleys. The scenery changes quickly around us. It is like passing through different seasons, from minute to minute.
Often we got into conversations where the fact that we were recording had no particular bearing, and it was just like any other conversation we would have had, but other times it would bring the situation into a clear and sudden focus, most often when musing on life, love, music, poetry and death. Often we'd stop somewhere on the journey - anywhere - and have poignant unplanned reflective pauses, to which the clear, crisp air lent itself. Suddenly standing by the water's edge, or overlooking a serene bay or valley. It was interesting how the momentum of a road trip coupled with the quickly-changing surrounds of the beautiful Tasmanian scenery drove the conversation on like a river.
Photos by myself and Ruby Michael
Some time after, back in Adelaide, I was talking to one of my teachers about these recorded conversations, and he asked, "Will they be made into a work, or was that the work itself?"
There was a lot of truth in that. It often felt like a performance - not for each other, but a performance for no one; just an incredible and beautiful play that no one could ever see. Ambient, meandering, and confronting at every turn. I suppose that is part of the power of recording - whether conscious of it or not, it amplifies the performative potentials. There is an attentive listener, whose very presence transforms what is being created.
Towards the end of the trip, I collaborated with Kara for this composition. Rather than create her own sounds for the piece, she chose to bring a series of photos to illustrate a story she told about a particular recurring poignant experience in her life, and to let me create sounds to represent this.
The story she told to accompany the images below was about her special relationship to camping, and the immediacy of being struck by the beauty and presence of nature when stepping out of the tent - how there's less between you and the elements, being enveloped by it, and sharing that sense with others.
She describes "a quality of it that doesn't need to evolve" and that it's close to her natural state of being, and so not exactly a nostalgic feeling, though not completely removed from nostalgia. She talks of how although the "outlook" - the sights, sounds, and smells, might be greatly different in one place or another (for example her birthplace of Canada compared to her current home in Hobart), there is a very similar quality in her experience; it is not dependent on place.
As the conversation continued on to her persistent connection to her homeland, I got the sense that the experience she was describing was of her own inner nature of place responding to place - stepping out of the tent and re-awakening. Having the same re-awakening every time, yet completely in response to nature's summons.