Intertidal Room - a Soundwalk through Timescapes of Vancouver Coastline



Intertidal Room is a site-responsive soundwalk composition that explores how entanglement of historical, environmental and cultural processes at the shoreline of Stanley Park in Vancouver has been reflected in its soundscapes. It is part of my postdoc research into the past, present, and future of soundwalking and field recording in the context of environmental humanities, post-digital arts, and philosophy of technology. Intertidal Room is a multi-layered composition made specifically for listening to in specific place (along Stanley Park's shoreline) and at a specific time (low tide). Besides being available through several collective walks during low tides, after its premiere in October 2020 the soundwalk was available via live-stream on a dedicated website. The streaming was synchronized with low tides in the Vancouver area. My initial plan was to bring attention to intertidal species around Stanley Park and explore how the understanding of their adaptation skills may help us, humans, question our tendency towards linear growth and constant expansion. However, through my conversation with indigenous guides at the park, I realized the significance of intertidal zones and more broadly the importance of cyclic organization of time to life patterns of First Nation communities at the Pacific coast. Their reliance on tidal patterns has been heavily disturbed by the colonial expansion and new disciplinary regimes that the land, its human and other than human species became subjected to. It became clear that in order to study the sonic vibrancy of intertidal zones - its historical and present condition as expressed in their soundscapes - it was necessary to look into the colonial impact on those zones and their actors. In its compositional structure, Intertidal room consists of several narrative-based storytelling techniques (historical, mythological, and sensory-ethnographic) and a series of soundscape compositions, a result of field recording sessions undertaken in summer 2020. It also draws on selected material from the archive of WSP. It sets them in new critical contexts: environmental, by touching upon extractivism of natural resources in the region, and post-colonial, by indicating how social injustice and colonial legacy are still embroidered in the social fabric and hence soundscapes of the place in question. Additionally, the composition comprises intentional porosity, gaps and pauses that in various moments allow soundscapes of places the listener is walking through, to leak in, resonate or dissonate with the prerecorded material. For Unheard Landscapes, I would like to offer Intertidal Room in a form of a soundwalk through spatially distributed elements of the original composition. Listeners will be invited to walk through several chapters of the composition while listening to portions of the narrative through their headphones. The spoken narrative will function as a thread that interweaves the scenes and contextualizes them.



Jacek Smolicki is an interdisciplinary artist, researcher, and soundwalker interested in techniques of attending to (as in paying attention) and recording (as in calling to mind and heart) human and other-than-human realms and existences. Besides working with existing archives and heritage, he develops new modes of sensing, recording, para-archiving, and mediating stories and signals from various sites, scales, and temporalities. His work is manifested through soundscape compositions, soundwalks, performances, experimental para-archives, installations, and diverse forms of writing. Smolicki has exhibited, presented his works, soundwalked and given workshops internationally. As a member of the Living Archives project, in 2017 he completed his PhD from Malmö University. Between 2020-2023 Smolicki pursues an international postdoc funded by the Swedish Research Council. He explores the history and prospects of field recording and soundwalking practices from the perspective of arts and environmental humanities. He is also an associate scholar at the Informatics and Media Hub for Digital Existence at Uppsala University. From January 2020, he is a member of BioMe, a research project that investigates the ethical implications of AI technologies on everyday life realms. Smolicki explores the impact of AI on the human voice. He is a co-founder of Walking Festival of Sound, a transdisciplinary event exploring the role of walking through and listening to our everyday surroundings.