The Bodélé Project

The Bodélé Project (2016) is a collaboration with visual artist Mark Clare.

It narrates natural events that are invisible to the naked eye, yet essential for the ecological equilibrium of our environment. The description of these events is sonically obscured through representation in morse code transmitted to radios, whereas some of their consequences are heard as recognisable sounds in the accompanying soundscape. The soundscape for the installation incorporates sounds from nature, as well as adaptations of the radio sounds and morse transmissions.

One such event is the aerial transport of fine dust along an atmospheric conveyor belt that reaches from the Sahara desert to South America. This dust, consisting of finely ground algae produced during the Holocene period, is carried on winds across the Atlantic as far as the Amazon basin. Its rich nutrient content replenishes those nutrients that have been leached away from the basin through tropical rains.

BodeleProjectAnother is the story of Phytoplankton. Phytoplankton are micro-algae and largely unicellular photosynthetic organisms. They move through and live in the illuminated zones of earth’s waters and are responsible for up to 40% of the oxygen in the atmosphere. Populations produce gasses that seed clouds, sequestering fresh carbon, which fertilises soil and feed the life within oceans. This community has provided a base within the earth’s self-supporting system, exerting biochemical influences on the atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere. Their constantly ephemeral contribution to the resilience of our habitable ecosystem is fundamental.

Úna and Mark met at the Centre Culturel Irlandais during the immensely valuable residency programme in 2015, and this piece was conceived by Mark and composed the following year. The Bodélé project was premiered at the Sonic Arts Research Centre, Belfast on 10th March 2016 as a 9 minute adaptation for concert; its natural habitat is a more interactive gallery based installation. Get in touch if you would like information on exhibition.