Name Scientist / Researcher: Shane Fahey
Name Artist: Greg Stonehouse
The project is of interest to me on a number of levels.
- It’s a great opportunity to discover and get to know habitats within a diverse and powerful bushland tract of coastal NSW.
- It’s a potentially concept free collaboration process, where there is only a gist of the goals and working methods given (if at all) so the skills, directions and roles are not pre-set or pre-ordained.
- It’s a gift to us artists and scientists to contribute to the greater wealth and understanding of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park in particular and of national parks and substantial bush reserves in general. There is a challenge to be mindful of our efforts on a much wider scale and how to become novus ‘mid-wives’ of these regions and not merely data collectors or creative resource miners.
When an artist and scientist collaborate, the process is as important as the work. The language of scientific research intersects with artist process and concept where there may be no conclusions, just exploration. While I have installed artworks in this national park, it becomes a laboratory in this exchange and thus an alternative view and focus will jolt my past experiences. I am interested to see how this project affects the park, whether the work can contribute to discourse about its identity and character.
Field of research / interest
Traditionally, my artistic/scientific practice has been either in sound or music production or room acoustics design and environmental impact studies on the aural acuity of residents due to potential or actual noise exposure.
Creatively I have collaborated with other sound artists such as Rik Rue and Julian Knowles in recording, producing and performing soundscape compositions from purely DIY rainforest and coastal environmental recordings in stereophonic and multi-speaker configurations (including video collection & production by Mr Oldham).
And more recently with singer/musician – bush regenerator Tegan Northwood and visual image transartist Honi Ryan in researching habitats within Kioloa State Forest and Murramurang National Park over a 4 year period. These field studies were conducted every 3 months for 3-4 day stints where we returned to the same 13 habitats to do detailed stereo recordings on analogue and digital recorders. The resultant audio was neither assembled nor manipulated. The only processing carried out on the raw recording files were some astute editing (but no insert editing within the block of audio presented for each habitat) and a relatively small degree of equalisation for spectral enhancement and stereo balancing.
My renewed interest in environmental acoustic studies and sound recording revolve around the challenge of discovering meaningful and respectful ways of mapping or portraying these habitats geographically and communicatively not just representationally (via soundscape artists’ audio) or statistically (through acoustic consultant analysis). It would be really pleasing if somehow the experience in Ku-ring-gai Chase Nat Park can translate operationally across modes of politics, land management, education and resource economics and bridge the various scales these disciplines suggest ranging from the local to the global.
About your art practice
My art practice is site specific and often involves collaborations with diverse groups. I am interested in how science and art combine and to withstand art being part of science's propaganda and science being merely a decorative influence for art. It is exciting to resist also preconceived ideas and wait until the place and its protagonists inform the work.
My interest in sound of the environment was initiated by a friend’s university treatise on the psychology of sounds generated by infants in pre-school. I completed an undergraduate thesis on the construction of sound recording studios & desperately wanted to play in an experimental rock band. I did live sound production for gay revue theatre; I bought a synthesizer & a 4 track tape recorder and threw myself into assembling avant garde sound art from my DIY bedroom.
After the romance with the Surry Hills post-punk independent music scene & record label MSquared I studied Acoustics at UNSW. I worked as an acoustic engineer for two decades working on environmental impact studies; industrial machine monitoring & room acoustic design for halls, courthouses & recording studios. During this time I built & operated Megaphon Studios with ex-partner Guy Dickerson for 26 years. During the 1990’s I collaborated with a large range of artists from various disciplines as an artist friendly sound engineer & producer – this ranged from dance, theatre, body movement, sculpture, video artists, installation & performance artists. Along the way a love of the NSW coastal bushland developed into in depth soundscape studies. And here we are once more !
My practice has been ongoing for thirty years beginning with ceramics, shifting to installations and public art and including multimedia and performative elements today. As part of my partnership as Milne and Stonehouse, I have installed numerous permanent public artworks nationally, each with a different site, varying collaborators and clients. The process for public art germinates slowly and allows the collaborative process to be absorbed into the artwork. My art practice continues to expand as new sites and new challenges provoke different responses.