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MUSEUM OF LAND

Who utters the poem? The poetic subgenres of sound poetry and visual poetry have helped to expand my notion of what a poem may be by focusing on the sensual materiality of languages. I listen to the soundscapes of Queensland to hear what poems are improvised by biotic and abiotic entities.

The soundscape (defined as the sonic environment)1 is considered part of a community's collective resources2 and therefore falls under the legislative area of common property rights. Communities worldwide currently face a "large-scale devaluation of natural sounds in part because they are so elusive and 'foreign' to"3 contemporary societies; in essence, urban-bound humans have lost an in-built sensitivity to and awareness of sound as a common resource. Acoustic ecology studies the impact that human-produced sounds have on biota within shared soundscapes and, conversely, the impact that soundscapes have on human health4. Over the past few decades, researchers in the field of acoustic ecology have placed greater emphasis on the soundscape in their studies of birds, amphibians, and marine life— and these studies are beginning to net results that indicate invasive sounds negatively impact the lives of inhabitants. Noise (defined as unwanted sound) can impact wildlife by "harming health, reproduction, survivorship, habitat use, distribution, abundance or genetic distribution,"5 or creating detectable changes in behaviour.

Biodiverse regions are often rich in ecosystem services, including those frequently exploited by industries such as mining, forestry, and tourism. These industries bring with them changes to the indigenous soundscape, which often are marked by increased decibel levels, vibration, and less distinction in frequency spectra. Technological noise— caused by aircrafts as well as rural industry such as forestry and mining— can have significant impact on biophonies6 (biologically diverse soundscapes), and as such is being met with abatement legislation7. Local externalities of vehicles include congestion, noise, and air pollution8. Indeed, noise from transportation has the capacity to scare off most large mammals, even in areas where wildlife is plentiful9. Noise pollution from agriculture and industry are also proven to have "severe repercussions for aquatic ecosystems."10

Even in the dense jungle of Far North Queensland, it was impossible to capture minutes-long audio devoid of human-produced sounds from vehicles or bodies. By Arcadia Beach on Magnetic Island, I eventually embraced these sounds as human collaboration rather than boiling in my frustration of how pervasive human touch is, even in "undeveloped territory." But here, we'll sample excerpts from the ecosystem sound poems recorded for Gibber.

1. R. Murray Schafer, The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World, (Rochester, Vermont: Destiny Books, 1977), 274.

2. Bernie Krause, Wild Soundscapes (Berkeley: Wilderness Press, 2002), 35.

3. Krause, 10.

4. Schafer, 271.

5. Noise Effect on Wildlife. U.S. Department of Transportation, 14 July 2011. Web. 18 November 2011.

6. Krause, 19.

7. Schafer, 87.

8. Thomas Sterner, Policy Instruments for Environmental and Natural Resource Management (Washington: Resources for the Future, 2003), 222.

9. Ontario's Algoma Country: Rail Excursions. Algoma Kinniwabi Travel Association, n.d. Web. 13 November 2011.

10. Threats to biodiversity. Department of Environment and Resource Management, Queensland Government, 17 December 2010. Web. 7 November 2011.