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Ithaca College

Publication Date

Fall 2016

Program Name

Australia: Sustainability and Environmental Action


Acoustic ecology is an interdisciplinary field that studies the relationship between sounds, sound sources, and environment they exist within. From an environmental perspective, this involves a holistic consideration of ecosystems, and how the various organisms within that ecosystem, including humans, impact and interact with each other through sound. Biosphere Soundscapes, an international, interdisciplinary project directed by Australian acoustic ecologist Dr. Leah Barclay, operates to engage communities within UNESCO Biosphere Reserves through acoustic-ecological concepts, monitoring, and techniques. In November 2016, I undertook the process of creating a short documentary film entitled Beyond What is Heard, which aimed to explore how the various programs and techniques utilized as a part of Biosphere Soundscapes have promoted sustainability in the Noosa Biosphere Reserve. This was done as a means to draw larger conclusions about the potential of the fields of acoustic ecology and environmental sound art to create change towards sustainable behaviors and structures for individuals, communities, and societies. To create the film, I conducted eleven interviews with a variety of artists, scientists, activists, community members and officials involved with Biosphere Soundscapes and the Noosa Biosphere and attended four events related to Australian acoustic ecology and the management of the Noosa Biosphere Reserve. The material from these interviews and events, traditional research methods, and my own personal experiences formed the basis for the documentary film, which portrays the importance of promoting listening as a method to connect with our environment, develop empathy and holistic mindsets, and thus work to make our own actions and communities more sustainable. Due to unforeseen technical and conceptual challenges and the complex political context within the Noosa Biosphere, I was unable to draw tangible conclusions about the impact of Biosphere Soundscapes on the Noosa Biosphere. However, the film’s larger purpose of encouraging deeper forms of listening, and demonstrating those practices’ value in the context of sustainability, remained intact to create an effective, impactful piece.


Audio Arts and Acoustics | Australian Studies | Biodiversity | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology



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