The Deep Listening Deep Sea(ing) project has taken us further, deeper, higher, closer. Listening to the living voice of the scientists that study the Deep Sea has been a very interesting experience for all artists involved, and it was proven that it is a defining experience to the children and adolescents that the project has reached. What the deep sea “is”, what is known, what is unknown, its importance and still hidden mysteries, the personal accounts of those who experience research missions in very peculiar circumstances, all this is fascinating, and to be able to listen to the “stories” of those who “live” the Deep Sea is an unique opportunity.
We also believe that the artistic creation lived by those same children and adolescents awakens the conscience for the importance of the Deep Sea, and can be a way of contributing to all of us being more sensitive and informed. The “territory” of art is obviously that of the possibility to imagine, to give wings to creativity, and in that sense the deep sea is and always will be “infinite”, however much science reveals some of its mysteries. Maybe this is the reason that artistic creation can be stimulating also for scientists: because it will leave them restless, incomplete, wanting to question, on one hand, but also more willing to understand that one of the reasons they do their work is because it is inherently “beautiful” and “ethical”.
As such, there are many people for whom Deep Listening Deep Sea(ing) will certainly leave resonances. But the children and teenagers are the main focus, because it is with them that we develop the projects artistic experiences, and it is in them and in the people of their generation that we lay our hope that the future will continue to exist. Besides those with whom we directly work in Marvão, in Missão Mar Profundo #1, and in Aveiro in Missão Mar Profundo #2 , we would like that others would also go through identical experiences. Or that they would see the work of the first ones. Or that those could continue to imagine their “own deep sea”, to build their “imaginary cartographies”, having as base materials the sonorities of Pianoscópio and the images that were collected in the scientific expeditions undertaken by our partners.
And so it is for those reasons that in this article we share a wide set of resources that served as basis for the creations made in Marvão and Aveiro; but also the creations that arose, made by children and adolescents from those same resources, using some simple tools we will explain further on.
About Resources and Creations emerging from them
The Deep Listening Deep Sea(ing) folder is the repository of both, and it is divided in two other folders, one concerning resources, Recursos, that is, the base materials from which to develop artistic experiences, and another that concerning creations, Criações, that is, the products or results to which the children and adolescents arrived. Each of these folders divides itself in a way we will explain shortly.
We had access to a set of images collected by our partners in deep sea exploration missions in the Norwegian and Portuguese seas. They are images captured by unmanned submarines, that are able to pinpoint the operation’s depth and location with accuracy, and that also possess robotic arms that enable the scientists to collect biological and geological samples. These vehicles (ROVs) are operated from a ship, and most of the scientists’ time is spent “observing” the images that arrive. The deep sea is vast, and those recordings are also very vast.
The first task that our team undertook was that of selecting some excerpts so as to create diversified “samples”, “appealing”, sometimes “landscapes”, other times “narratives”, with a duration that was compatible with the “giving sound” activities that were to be proposed to the children and adolescents that participated in Missão Mar Profundo. These excerpts of moving images can be found in the Imagens em movimento folder. They are soundless images (the ROVs don’t record sound) and they were the starting point or inspiration for the sound creation activities (in Pianoscópio, in Missão Mar Profundo #2). From these images we created a set of still images, Imagens estáticas (frames from the original videos) because they were required for Missão Mar Profundo #2, as we will explain later. In the folder Recursos one can also find the folder Sons which contains sounds created in Pianoscópio, some in Aveiro (when Pianoscópio was part of the exhibitions of Fábrica da Ciência), other in Marvão during Missão Mar Profundo #1. The idea is that they can be a varied set of original “sound gestures” that can be used as “blocks” either in the creation of purely sonic compositions (that is, without image), or in audiovisual creation (that is, aiming to create relationships between sound and moving or still images).
The Missão Mar Profundo #1, held at Pianoscópio, in Marvão, had as its main objective sound creation. After meeting the marine biologist Ana Hilário, and attending a lecture about her line of work, the deep sea, the students of the Agrupamento de Escolas de Marvão visited Pianoscópio, explored its existing resources, recorded some “sound gestures” and created their own compositions, that they then played and recorded. The folder Sons mentioned above is largely composed of those base elements, while the Composições Sonoras folder, inside the Criações folder, is the collection of the pieces produced in that Mission.
In contrast to Missão Mar Profundo #1, Missão Mar Profundo #2 had digital creation as its starting point. The teenagers of Aveiro were invited to create different kinds of relationships between sound and Moving images and Still images, using the sounds and sound compositions created in Marvão. In the first case, working with basic video editing software (OpenShot) and making decisions about the sound and image content, that is, creating Videos, available also inside the Criações folder, as well as in the gallery of this current article.
Another proposal started with the PolisPhone, a software created by Filipe Lopes that enables the user to create interactive “sound maps”. In other words, instead of creating closed relationships between sound and images, the aim is to create an “instrument” that enables real time creation by the user. The app’s nature (firstly developed to explore the concept of “soundscape”) led us to choose images that evoke “deep sea landscapes”. The PolisPhones folder contains what was created in Missão Mar Profundo #2. To be played it is necessary to access the Deep Listening Deep Sea(ing) page.
An invitation for the Journey to continue
It is very easy to build PolisPhones, and that is the main challenge or invitation we would like to address to anyone reading this article: to use an image (for example from the Imagens estáticas folder, or a drawing, or a imagined landscape painting), and inventing the sounds that it “unveils” when searched (for example using tracks from the Composições Sonoras folder, or Sons, or any other that imagination leads you to make or find), creating an “imagined sound cartography”.