Emma Critchley ©

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    The Space Below is conceived as an immersive sound installation, designed to tour to subterranean locations across the globe, where the cause and impact of underwater acoustic pollution are most prevalent. 

    Currently in production, this new work is a collaboration between award-winning artists Emma Critchley and Lee Berwick. It is inspired by extensive research and a year-long residency with scientists and specialists in the field. The work explores an urgent issue that has spread to affect all corners of the world, from the busy shipping lanes of the English Channel to the once silent waters of the Arctic.

    Every creature in the ocean can hear. The smallest larva listens to the reef to find where to settle, while the Blue Whale draws an acoustic map to navigate its way. Hearing is fundamental to communication, breeding, feeding and ultimately survival.

    The Space Below transports audiences into a space where ears rule over eyes, and where the sound of humans at work and play takes on a darker tone. Created from an archive of underwater sound recordings, sourced from across the globe, the artists’ sonic palette features both the natural sounds made by a wide range of sea creatures as well as human-made sounds: sonar activity, seismic air gun surveys and Acoustic Deterrent Devices. These human-made noises are a product of the way in which we live today: of industrialisation, globalisation and climate change.

    We are working closely with Dr. Iain Staniland and Dr. Jennifer Jackson of the British Antarctic Survey to learn more about marine mammal song and behaviour. Jennifer Jackson specialises in population genetics and assessment of whales and their recovery from whaling, her projects include the South Georgia Right Whale project, a dedicated population survey of southern right whales in their feeding grounds off South Georgia. You can learn more about the project here and on their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/sgwhale).  Iain Staniland is a Marine Mammal Ecologist working on the Ecosystems Programme. His research has focused on feeding ecology; using animal-borne telemetry devices to track the behaviour of seals and penguins whilst they are at sea. The work attempts to not only understand the behaviour of the animals themselves but also use these marine predators to monitor their underwater environment. Through this collaboration we are also able to connect with a network of scientists worldwide,  further increasing our understanding of the issues and building on the archive of sounds to work with in the installation.

    The first installation will take place in London in Spring, 2020. Our research partners include: The British Antarctic Survey; The Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust; Culture & Climate Change Project; Californian Ocean Alliance; The University of Plymouth; and specialists from Cornell and Washington Universities, US.