Composer: Maggi Payne
I started gathering video images for Apparent Horizon six years prior to its completion. These shots slowly reveal information in various landscapes by holding still on an image for several seconds, then zooming in or out or panning to reveal more detail, an unusual vista, rock formation, etc. It occurred to me that it also might be interesting to see what might be “revealed” from an overhead view. Since it was impractical to rent airplanes for this purpose, I incorporated NASA footage taken by the Space Shuttle and Apollo series astronauts. At times it is difficult to distinguish views of the earth from space from those taken on the earth’s surface.
Many of the earthbound shots are of rather “alien” landscapes—those where I, as a human being, don’t really fit in—I’m the alien there. In these often desolate places the only sounds one hears are wind, insects, a scant number of birds and animals, and a rare rainstorm. I decided to take our constant human chatter and transpose it into sounds somewhat reminiscent of nature’s sounds in the landscapes to which they are attached or to transform them into somewhat “otherworldly” sounds. This was an attempt to convey an aural impression of the sensations I have experienced while in these earthbound landscapes and those sensations I imagine the astronauts might experience while viewing the earth from space. Sound sources consisted of transmissions from/through space and were from Space Shuttle and Apollo missions, satellite transmissions, and shortwave radio broadcasts. Often I chose sections that were full of static and distortion—signals that were reaching unintelligibility. There are Morse Code “crickets” at Bryce Canyon and static “rain” at the Canyonlands. This is the third work in a series of video pieces based on transformations of human-made or generated sounds, the previous two being Airwaves (realities) and Liquid Metal.