Bog People

Tidmarsh Farms, Plymouth, MA

decommissioning a cranberry farm

2016 - ongoing


Bog People is a location-aware contributory sound art installation sited at Tidmarsh Farms, a partially decommissioned cranberry bog in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Tidmarsh Farms is operated by MIT visiting professor and co-founder of the Media Lab, Glorianna Davenport, and is undergoing a transformation from working cranberry farm back to a more natural habitat that existed prior to the agricultural modifications made to facilitate the farming. This project, dubbed the Living Observatory, involves numerous labs, professors and students doing scientific research, along with government conservation agencies. The project will last several years and will be one of the largest watershed restoration projects ever undertaken in MA by the time it is completed.

I have always been interested in transitional periods; of people, places, objects. The land at Tidmarsh has been sculpted to suit a particular purpose - growing cranberries - over the past 100 years, and it is now being re-sculpted, not back to its original state, but to a place resembling the original in diversity and philosophy more so than physical form. The entire purpose of the land will change and hence the human experience of being on and interacting with the land will change as well.

Bog People creates a location-based evolving soundscape at Tidmarsh consisting of site-specific music along with voices of the multitudes of people who are involved in the project or who have a connection to the property. Everyone from the MIT researchers installing sensors to the naturalists chasing butterflies to the neighbor walking her dog to the guy driving the bulldozer doing the actual physical land re-shaping. Audio recordings of interviews with these individuals have been placed in pertinent locations throughout the landscape, creating an audioscape tied directly to the history and human experience of the land.

Bog People captures the essence and personal significance of Tidmarsh through the eyes of many different stake-holders during a transformative time, and re-presents those thoughts and stories collectively within an on-site audio experience.

Bog People can be accessed via a custom app on GPS-enabled smartphones, using the Roundware audio platform. The app will enable participants to wander around the land while listening to the audioscape; hearing the music shift from region to region and hearing the commentary pertinent to where they are currently standing. The app will also provide another more ad hoc method of contributing thoughts/opinions/stories to the piece. Contributors can record themselves and upload audio directly from the app and hear their own contributions as part of the piece immediately thereafter. Much like the land has and will continue to evolve over the course of the next few years, the piece will continue to evolve as people add their own voices.

Audio Sample

Bog People

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