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Diversity Seen and Heard

on Wednesday, 13 May 2015. Posted in Artists, Blog

Bernie Krause and Nicole Fournier both derive their aesthetic formulations from actual ecosystem diversity.
Fournier's diversity encompasses a broad range of botanical species - edible, medicinal, exotic, ordinary, plain, cultivated, wild, woody, succulent, etc. She presents these species of plants as a glorious smorgasbord of temptations to sustain and delight multiple species of wildlife and humans. 

Krause also revels in the abundance of natural systems, which he documents and measures through audio recordings of wild places that he has been collecting for several decades, in locations
around the globe. Krause is a soundscape ecologist who combines music and scientific research, attempting to ascertain the health of ecosystems through acoustics. He discovered, that the healthiest and most undisturbed environments have the most acoustic diversity. This is measured in terms of the range of biophany (sounds created by living creatures) and sounds of geophany (sounds created by the physical environment, such as water or wind). The Krause Natural Soundscape Collection consists of more than 4,500 hours of recordings of over 15,000 marine and terrestrial species.  Krause's recordings of pristine sound environments are commissioned as works of art and as science.  He has produced fifty field recording albums from the world's rare habitats. Sadly, over half of these habitats are now either diminished or silent.

n healthy ecosystems, each species occupies a specific aural niche, so that each 'voice' can be heard, even as they comprise a rich wildlife orchestra. When human-induced noises generated by machines, industry, transportation, etc. drown out the sounds made by animals, their ability to communicate about mating, food sources, and danger is severely impeded, imperiling their survival.

The beauty of healthy ecosystems is both optical and aural. But compromised ecosystems diminish the visual landscape and the acoustic soundscape.  Krause goes beyond aesthetics to convey the severity of this situation. He uses a spectogram to graph each distinctive sound in the soundscape, which generates a quantifiable measurements of its diversity. By revisiting sites, he can provide accurate indications of ecosystem damage (the loss of voices), or  ecosystem recovery (an increase of voices).

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