Five Fertile Exchanges

CD in oversized 7″ package with letterpress backpanel and 16 page booklet, with notes by Douglas Kahn. Released by Consumer Waste.

Five Fertile Exchanges was produced in October 2016 during a two week residency, supported by naturestrip, at the Bogong Centre for Sound Culture, located in Bogong village in the Victorian Alps (in Victoria, Australia). Bogong is in part home to the Kiewa Hydroelectric Scheme, which generates vast amounts of electricity that contains no traces of the climatic features (the clouds, wind, storms and rain) or the landforms (the mountains, creeks, rivers, lakes and hillsides) that produce it. Even the infrastructure (the dams, power pylons, pipes, cables and roads) is basically absent from its final product: regulated, monolithic, continuous power.

However, these recordings present a very different relationship to both making and interpreting electrical energy, focusing not on constancy but on the variability of electrical technologies. Five Fertile Exchanges stemmed from a simple idea that reimagines the devices we use to draw energies from our natural environments as ‘sensitive devices’ capable of providing us with experiences that relate to us something very different about the locations they are operating in – or at least of realising something familiar in an unfamiliar way (and maybe vice versa) – through their variable, fluctuating responses to environmental factors.

These devices were tiny amplifiers powered by solar panels, primitive hand-wound electrical coils, turbines made from small electric motors, or repurposed everyday objects such as hacked solar-powered calculators; others were simply a solar panel with its output cable connected to an audio recorder. In all cases they directly sourced whatever energy they required to function from their immediate environment (so no batteries or mains power), while simultaneously giving an account of that same energy and of the location in which it was sourced, realised as sound.