Pulse of the Wetland

Late afternoon in the wetland at Burrima
Looking east towards the Northern Nature Reserve of the Marshes, February 2020 and May 2020

Pulse of the Wetland is investigating the ecological dynamics, rhythms and layers of the beautiful yet complex wetlands and floodplains of the Macquarie Marshes. Working with observations and digital field recordings made on site over a year (through a dry and wet cycle), with historical and academic reading and research, and community stories gathered along the way – synchronous narratives about the Marshes are woven into a body of digital artworks for presentation in exhibitions, art trails, sound walks, publications, and presentations. The lead creative is Kim V. Goldsmith.

On-site documentation started in February 2020 to gather baseline recordings before water entered the system, the Macquarie Marshes Environmental Trust provided access to the private property, “Burrima”, that sits on the western boundary of the Northern Marsh (Nature Reserve). Other sites along the lower Macquarie and the recognised Marsh area were explored throughout 2020 and into 2021 – from roadsides, bridges, stock routes and reserves.

Desktop reading and research is ongoing, taking in everything from the journals of the colonial explorers, to published research by wetland scientists, the knowledge of local land managers and community. As with past projects, this reading and the questions put to various field specialist contacts established throughout the project, is to inform how the videos and audio recorders are used in the field. It also provides context and explanations for what may be captured and used in final works, much of it documented in the processes captured on this website.

Stories gathered from those with connections to the Macquarie Marshes aim to bring to light the deep-seated and often emotional connections that underpin the values attributed to this landscape. Values often not rooted in economics or science but more closely connected with a spiritual association with a land known, or seeking to know, intimately. These stories form the Macquarie Marshes Story Map and with permissions, recordings are woven into the sound and video artworks.

To deny there’s a strong political current swirling around the Marshes would be naive. The project, while acknowledging strong positions are held by various parties, will not enter into the debate. All offers of assistance to make this project happen have been gratefully accepted. The project acknowledges the Macquarie Marshes are on the lands of the Wayilwan people and as such relevant permissions have been sought, and will continue to be sought as the project progresses.

The works created for Pulse of the Wetland, and the international Mosses + Marshes project that is forms a part of, attempt to show the wetlands in a way not normally experienced, using digital technologies to present ‘hidden’ ecological complexities of the landscape, including the human elements. The personal stories woven into the works are designed to highlight the deep connection to area held by so many, and shared hopes for its future.

Recording technology being used in Pulse of the Wetland includes:

  • Olympus Tough Tracker camera for underwater time-lapse and video
  • Stealth Cam 4K infrared field camera for night-time time-lapse and video
  • Mavic Pro drone for low-level video
  • Garmin Virb 360 video camera
  • Panasonic Lumix DCM-LX100 for time-lapse
  • Panasonic GH4 for time-lapse and video
  • Canon EOS 60D for stills photography
  • Zoom H2n 360 audio recorder for spatially atmospheric recordings
  • Zoom F6 and H6 audio recorders with following mics –
  • Hydrophones (pair) for underwater audio
  • Contact microphones (pair) for vibrational recordings
  • Shotgun microphone – directional sound
  • RODE lavalier microphones (pair) in binaural configuration
  • AudioMoth acoustic field recorder for durational atomospheric recordings

Timeline (for planning purposes only):

STAGE 1: PRODUCTION & POST-PRODUCTION, 2019-2021
Self-funded with in-kind assistance from Macquarie Marshes Environmental Trust & RiverSmart
September 2019: research, project brief development, initial approach to organisations for support
Jan – June 2020: reading + research, baseline recordings from first summer/autumn field trips
July – August: winter field trips (across multiple sites) and story gathering (funded by RAF NSW Quick Response Grant – now acquitted)
September – November: spring field trips (across multiple sites)
February 2021: final field trip + story gathering (12 months on)
March-May: post-production + ongoing community consultation regarding public program
July-September: Mosses + Marshes project book production

STAGE 2: EXHIBITIONS, PUBLICATION & PUBLIC PROGRAMS, 2021-2022
Self-funded, Australian Cultural Fund crowdfunding & NSW Arts and Cultural Funding Program (Round 2) funding
See Events
THIS STAGE OF THE PROJECT BECOMES PART OF THE INTERNATIONAL MOSSES + MARSHES PROJECT

For project updates read the blog posts. For questions about the project or how you might participate or offer assistance, contact Kim V. Goldsmith by email or on +61 419 439 923.

Funding

This project is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW.

This project was made possible through a Quick Response Grant provided by Regional Arts NSW through the Regional Arts Fund, an Australian Government initiative supporting the arts in regional, remote and very remote Australia. Quicks funding will support time in the field over winter and spring 2020 and the gathering of stories. This funding has now been acquitted.

Regional Arts Fund Quicks logo