19: Cockatoo Island

I'm now over a week deep into the Urban Islands design workshop, working with Geoff Manaugh of BLDG BLOG and 15 other students to devise a tarot card deck and some proposals for Cockatoo Island from that deck. Cockatoo Island is a former shipbuilding facility and convict prison in the middle of Sydney Harbour. Since its closure in the 1990s it has been the subject of much speculation.

I am bringing to the workshop a desire to document and project sonically the environment on Cockatoo. I wish to make architecture out of sound, to build turbine halls and warehouses and glacial canyons out of sound. Cockatoo Island is the first illicit commission to do so.

Four days ago I took the audio tour and I was struck by the simultaneous experiences--one virtual, of the audio tour, and the other real. Often canned sounds of seagulls would intermix with actual seagulls. (are they communicating?) A low hum in the background would be unsettling in that I didn't know if it was the tour or if it was real, until I removed the headset.

I'm interested in audio tours because they suggest alternate realities that coexist with ours. My quest, then, is to produce an audio tour that isn't so prescriptive, yet opens up a dialogue with a place.

This may be where Soundscrapers is trending--to produce audio tours for each place that I visit... A collection of military audio tours.

This is not yet an audio tour. Listen:


18: NZ tanks

New Zealand is a peaceful country, if only because it is so far away no one has bothered with it. Henry Kissinger once called it a "dagger pointed at the heart of Antarctica" but that's about as militarized as New Zealand gets.

Now it is possible to drive a tank while visiting the lovely South Island city of Christchurch. Through this experience, really a boyhood fantasy come true, the land of milk and honey can be sited through a periscope. The sound from the inside of the rolling tank might be a cow pasture in New Zealand or a desert landscape in Afghanistan. You choose. Listen:


17: White Sands

Take a flight out to New Mexico and explore the wonders of White Sands Missile Range, the largest military installation in the United States. I will walk around and point out various missiles in the park, and then let some of the museum video material speak for itself.