The Eiffel Tower and surrounding parklands in Paris are being transformed into an immersive sonic experience, layering rainforest soundscapes over the breathtaking views of the city.
Rainforest Listening, taking place during the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21), is aimed at inspiring ecological engagement, according to multi-award winning Australian artist Dr Leah Barclay, who is leading the project alongside Dr Toby Gifford.
“We are bringing the rainforests of the world to Paris and encouraging global leaders to listen to nature and take climate action,” Dr Barclay says.
“At the core of this experience, Rainforest Listening showcases one of the most critical environments on earth, the Amazon Rainforest.
“The installation features pristine sounds recorded in a diversity of ecosystems including lowland tropical rainforest with abundant wildlife.
“Listeners can hear the rich biodiversity of insects and birdlife and those who venture deeper into the sound maps can discover the endangered Amazon River dolphins or elusive howler monkeys hidden in iconic locations throughout Paris.”
Dr Barclay and Dr Gifford – both from Griffith University’s Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre – are using this unique artistic partnership as a catalyst for global engagement and to contribute directly to rainforest communities.
Over 100 sounds have been planted across Paris during COP21, with each observatory platform of the Eiffel Tower interpreted as the four distinct layers of tropical rainforest vegetation.
Rainforest Listening is produced by Rainforest Partnership, an international NGO founded with a mission to protect tropical rainforests by partnering with people at global and local levels to create lasting solutions to deforestation.
Listeners will be able to hear the Amazon grow across the city as they access the sounds via mobile devices and sculpt their own experience by triggering geo-located soundscapes as they walk through iconic locations across the city.
Dr Barclay and Dr Gifford are also leading a second project entitled River Listening while in Paris, also as part of ARTCOP21, the Global Climate Art Festival.
The initiative offers listening labs with live underwater microphones and sound walks along the Seine River to explore new approaches in the conservation of global river systems.
Listeners can discover the Amazon River Dolphin in central Brazil, pilgrims chanting at dusk on the banks of the Pamba in southern India or Indigenous elders speaking about iconic rivers across Australia.
Dr Gifford explains that “River Listening explores rivers as the lifeblood of communities and underscores the value of listening in our current state of ecological uncertainty, weaving diverse cultural and natural soundscapes along the banks of the Seine River”.
River Listening is supported by the Australian Rivers Institute (ARI), the Australia Council for the Arts and the Australia Network for Art and Technology (ANAT).