Fluencies is an interactive sound map created for the group exhibition ‘Speaking With the River’ at the North Coast Regional Gallery, Ballina from 11 March to 2 May 2021.
This exhibition was curated by LabX at Southern Cross University, Lismore.

Fluencies (2021) detail.

Fluencies continues my work that engages with rivers. It brings together two components: a large-scale digital print (2600mm x 6150mm) of a drawing of part of the Richmond River system in northern New South Wales, Australia; and audio compositions based on field recordings made at ten sites in the catchment.

The two components are brought together by integrating sensors into the sound map at each recording site, each of which triggers the playback of the composition from the particular site. The trigger and playback are managed by a Bare Conductive Touch Board. The presence of a sensor is indicated by the image of the palm of a person’s hand melded into the drawing. Each person was chosen because of a connection with the particular part of the river system.

Fluencies sound map
Fluencies (detail of gallery installation. Image: Annique Goldenberg)

The drawing of the river, digitally printed on PhotoTex, extends from Mallanganee in the west to Ballina in the east, and from Lismore in the north, south to Bungawalbin National Park. With no terrain other than coastline depicted, water is the focus: the river; its tributary, the Wilsons River; creeks; swamps and frequently inundated land.

The intent is to bring this aquatic system to our attention through the combination of sound and sight.

The sound component of Fluencies is available for download from Bandcamp at https://robgarbutt.bandcamp.com/.

A short interview on Fluencies is available on Soundcloud at https://soundcloud.com/supergoes-tothepond/fluencies-new-work-discussed-on-environmental-as-anything-07-march-2021.

With the grateful acknowledgment of Cherie Winter for her patient assistance with printing, and many thanks to the hand models for their willing spirits. Also to Steve Law and Ian Slade at Southern Cross University for sharing their knowledge of audio recording and production, and similarly to the members of the Australian Wildlife Sound Recording group. Of you all, my respect has only increased through these initial attempts in field recording composition and production. Southern Cross University provided the printing facilities, and LabX the nourishment. Many thanks also to Pascal at Bare Conductive for helping me navigate Arduino sketches and more carefully attend the arcane world of proximity sensors. Alice Kurien, Lee Mathers and the installation staff at NRCG are magnificent. As always, thank you Shauna for believing with love in yet another project, and helping me navigate each rapid as it came into view.