Answering Echoes
Gollum Channel

Have you ever wondered what a multibeam image of the sea-floor ‘sounds’ like? It’s an interesting question which flips our understanding of hydrographic principles. At INFOMAR we use soundwaves to map the seafloor. Sound is emitted from transducers on the vessel which travel through the water column and are returned after they ‘echo’ off the bottom. This information is then translated into bathymetric maps. However, following a recent collaboration with the artist Carol Anne Connolly we now have an insight into what those maps sound like.

Carol Anne’s work is influenced by time spent in the Mid Atlantic on a scientific survey aboard the R.V. Celtic Explorer. Her research was informed by conversations with marine scientists while at sea, the writing of marine biologist & conservationist Rachel Carson (where the title of the work comes from), and technology that employs sound for scientific research. With a particular interest in ideas that relate to our connection, perception and understanding of deepwater landscapes, Connolly collaborated with INFOMAR, Ireland’s national seabed mapping programme, at the Marine Institute, Galway. Utilising INFOMAR's three-dimensional representations of the Irish seabed, generated by multi-beam acoustic technology, the artist has composed sonic portrayals of the ocean landscape using photoelectronic synthesisers, a technology that turns imagery into sound. The artist employed a virtual version of the ANS synthesiser; a musical instrument created by Russian engineer Evgeny Murzin in 1937 and used by Soviet composers including Edward Artemiev for the score of Andrei Tarkovsky's film Solaris

Answering Echoes was originally commissioned by Aerial/Sparks curated by Louise Manifold as part of Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture and exhibited in Aras Eanna on Inis Oirr with Ambisonics Ireland where the sound pieces created from each underwater location were mixed in the space, sensors picked up movement of viewers in the space and the sounds were triggered by this movement.

Ambisonics Ireland – Immersive Audio

Answering Echoes - Galway 2020 - Inis Oirr - Carol Anne Connolly 360 video

The work was also exhibited as part of Below, and Time Between, by Carol Anne Connolly and Fiona Kelly at Studio 12, Backwater Artists Studio. An interview with Carol on the project can be found here.

Carol Anne Connolly & Fiona Kelly | Below, and Time Between – Backwater Artists Group

As part of the project all the artist's work will be played on Lyric FM, The Blue of the Night by Bernard Clarke this week. Carol Annes work was broadcast on Monday July 12th and you can replay that here (starting at 1hour 4 minutes in). 

Although a break from the norm for INFOMAR we were happy to assist Carol Anne in the production of this project which transcends the artistic / scientific divide and provides an alternative perspective of the seafloor. Safe and sustainable management of Irelands marine resource is based on much more than scientific knowledge. Novel thinking combined with effective communication enables the story of the sea to be heard in many, diverse ways and the further this story travels the further our appreciation of the marine environment will grow.

#aerialsparks #galway2020 #carolanneconnolly #ambisonicsireland #araseanna #backwaterartists 

INFOMAR is Ireland’s national seabed mapping programme and is funded by the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC). It is jointly managed by Geological Survey Ireland and Marine Institute and is tasked with fully mapping Ireland’s territorial waters for the sustainable development of Ireland’s marine resource. INFOMAR will continue until the end of 2026, enabling effective management and accelerated growth to support Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth.