SiteWorks – BioPod_V1

Dr Nigel Helyer installing on board BioPod_V1, during SiteWorks 2014

Dr Nigel Helyer installing on board BioPod_V1, during SiteWorks 2014

Our species makes a lot of noise ~ we have created a world in which silence is a rare commodity. The BioPod invites you to spend an overnight acoustic vigil where you can maintain your silence and listen to the voices of other species. During your overnight stay you are invited to make a series of short audio recordings of the soundscape and to also record a personal audio-log reflecting on your experience.’ – From the BioPod Survival Manual

BioPod_V1, a floating environmental recording studio

BioPod_V1, a floating environmental recording studio

The BioPods project was developed for the Bundanon Trust annual Siteworks 2014 festival but is also the debut project of When Art meets Science a three year Australian Research Council project conducted between the artist and cultural and environmental researchers at Macquarie University; with The Bundanon Trust and the Australia Council for the Arts as partners (read a synopsis of the ARC project below).

BioPod visualisation

BioPod visualisation

BioPods is a proof of concept prototype for a series of site-specific, micro-architectural sculptures which are designed to facilitate active listening in the natural environment and thus create an aggregated narrative of aural experience. The concept is to provide a capsule for an overnight acoustic vigil for a single person.  Positioned in a sonically significant site on the Bundanon property the BioPod provides a unique situation that combines sculptural, architectural and acoustic experiences.

Recording an audio log

Recording an audio log

The participants were invited to record their sonic surroundings and also to a personal digital narrative as a contribution to an ongoing digital archive – a type of ship’s log. Imagine a meditation cell, an escape pod, a re-entry capsule, an Ark in which an overnight acoustic reverie can be recorded by the pod’s user-friendly, on-board digital audio system.

Awaiting a participant

Awaiting a participant

 

The first overnight participant

The first overnight participant

Listen up to:- The introductory mix played from the BioPod to a lakeside audience at SiteWorks, and also tune into Episode #1 – The BioPod from the When Science meets Art series on Soundproof, ABC Radio National.

Here are some tips from the BioPod Survival Manual, designed for prospective overnight visitors:

Some tips to ensure your stay is pleasant and safe.
Housekeeping: The BioPod experience is from Dusk to Dawn and it is expected that you will spend most of your time inside the tent structure, listening, recording and relaxing.  Please keep the insect screens closed for your convenience (insect repellent wipes are provided).  Please also remove your shoes to ensure the interior is kept as clean as possible.

Preparing the rig for the SiteWorks event

Preparing the rig for the SiteWorks event

Safety on-board.
1. When moving about on the BioPod platform please take extreme caution as there are numerous trip hazards and the deck is coated in a waterproof membrane which can be slippery when wet.
2. Whilst the lake is only about one metre deep there is a life-jacket onboard and we suggest that you wear this when moving about on the platform or rowing to and fro the structure.
3. There is a head mounted lamp on-board (you charge this by winding the small crank) please use this when moving outside the tent structure.

The ferryman

The ferryman

Bodily needs.
1. Sleeping; the BioPod is equipped with a camp bed and sleeping bag.  Please use the cotton sheet liner provided.
2. Nourishment; there are basic provisions, drinking water and a thermos of hot water to ensure you won’t starve to death.
3. The call of nature; there is a bucket on-board for that midnight pee, for anything more serious please row yourself ashore and use the toilet block.

The floating platform

The floating platform

Recording equipment.
1.  You will be given a short induction to the audio recording equipment upon arrival.  The gear has been kept to the minimum and is easy to operate, being based upon an iPad system.  There are two microphones, a shotgun (housed in the ‘blimp’) and a voice mike mounted on the desk.  The blimp does not need to be placed outside as the tent fly-screen door is acoustically transparent all you need to do is place the stand in an appropriate position.
2. Power is 12 volt DC and is supplied from the battery case below the desk.

De-briefing, you will be ‘de-briefed’ in the morning and asked for some feed-back.
Enjoy your reverie.

Dr Helyer testing the recording gear

Dr Helyer testing the recording gear