Listening Underwater

June 11th, 2021

Under the water line an entirely different auditive setting begins. Can we learn to heal and re-build relations with our damaged environment by frequenting this boundary?

In conversation: Monica Moses Haller, Margarida Mendes

Sound-based artistic practices can work fruitfully across a multitude of environments. Monica Moses Haller and Margarida Mendes, both participants of the Anthropocene River Journey in 2019 and The Current in 2020, take on submerged and floating perspectives in their work to explore the capacities of various aesthetic approaches and recording techniques in relation to water. In this discussion, with the anthropogenic landscapes of the Mississippi River as a background, Moses Haller and Mendes consider sound as a way of paying closer attention to the toxicity, pollution, and disruption that otherwise remain invisible. Since the water surface behaves as an almost perfect reflector, sound waves barely breach this interface between water and air, traveling more than four times faster below than above. Water as a medium therefore not only allows us to connect to what can’t be heard or observed above the water line, but through submersion one enters into an entirely different auditive setting. In their rich conversation, Mendes and Moses Haller discuss how listening underwater changes our relationship to one’s own senses while potentially creating an awareness of what Mendes calls an “interscalar continuity” between our bodies and the environment.