One of the most interesting things about LWC for me in terms of both the medium I'm using (sound) & the general theme of my engagement with the site is where it is. Unlike many natural & artificial wetland areas, LWC has a determinedly urban location (& history as a piece of engineered & re-engineered city infrastructure). Surrounded by city, one of the first things I had to jettison was the idea of amassing a collection of pristine sound recordings. LWC sits on a well-used corridor of the Heathrow flight paths, with planes coming in to land every few minutes. The site's sky is also well-traversed by helicopters, & the sound from adjacent playing fields is a clear sonic presence. The air traffic is clearly audible even in underwater recording, & another clear presence is the enjoyment of the site by people (walking over bridges where much of my underwater recording took place, conversations in hides, & mobile phone signals all feature). All served to remind that the site occupies a particular intersection of human/non-human activities & encounters, & informed, even transformed my thinking about what it was I was/am doing & trying to communicate.
"Nature" also contributed to interesting recording challenges; wind is an expected element to negotiate, especially in Autumn, but its interaction with one of LWC's most essential plant presences, the reed-beds, meant that many recordings seemed to be overlaid with white noise, & indeed that mix of hissing & coarser rustling is a clear sound signature of the site & something that has been interesting to explore as a feature rather than an obstacle.
This project is part of Wetlands Unravelled, a series of artworks commissioned by Unravelled, for & taking place at the London Wetland Centre, Barnes. My contribution, working mainly with sound but also text, image & performance, explores how LWC can be experienced as a site where certain intersections of migration, climate change & crisis, our language around the 'natural world' & the human one, interventions & technologies & more, are active.
I'd like to thank Polly Harknett & Caitlin Hefferman of Unravelled, & especially note the generosity of many LWC staff, particularly Adam Salmon & Richard Bullock who have provided their expertise with good humour & patience.
Thanks also to Jonathan Reeves of WWT for providing research information on the health & well-being effects of WWT sites.
A note on the project title:
Survival: our current situation makes clear that it's not hyperbole to speak of crises of survival for many specifies on the planet, including our own.
Lines of flight: the literal, in terms of the birds, planes, helicopters encountered, & of forced & other necessary kinds of movement from one space/place to another (fly & flee), but also the Deleuze/Guattari sense, especially in relation to rhizomic multiplicities.