Seagulls and Soundscapes – Sound Artist Rob Mackay on ECOde

Posted on 24.04.2019

We were delighted to have Sound Artist Rob Mackay work with us as part of the ECOde project team. Learn about his time on the project and how he worked with the young Scarborough coders.

It’s been a real joy to work on the first phase of the ECOde project run by Invisible Dust in collaboration with Scarborough Library’s Code Club. I’ve been particularly impressed by the engagement of the kids (ages ranging from 8 – 13) throughout all of the workshops. Working with them alongside other educators on the project has really helped me develop my skills around workshop delivery in this area.

ECOde introduces children and young people to the natural world, inspiring them to investigate local biodiversity and understand that human activity can affect nature in negative ways. It helps them to join the dots, ask questions and find creative ways to inform the wider public about climate change and environmental issues closer to home.

We’ve gone out on a couple of field recording sessions to engage with our local environment through listening. The participants recorded contrasting sounds in different parts of Scarborough near to the library including waves on the shore, traffic, and underwater recordings in the duck pond on Valley Road. We’ve also recorded ‘hidden’ sounds around us such as sonifying electromagnetic interference.

We then reviewed and edited these sounds, and learned some creative coding in Sonic Pi in order to start sculpting the sounds we recorded into a sound collage. Then we uploaded the sounds to a soundmap we made in Google maps, starting to make up a sound picture of the different sonic elements of Scarborough, including the creative sonic collage of the workshop participants’ work.

We also installed a streambox on the roof of Scarborough Library, thanks to SoundCamp. You can listen to it streaming the soundscape in real-time on the Locus Sonus Soundmap here. We intend to keep this streambox running so anyone can listen in at any time to hear how the soundscape changes throughout the seasons, including the sounds of migrating birds, as well as seagulls who are nesting on the roof.

Here’s the ECOde Google soundmap with all of the workshop participant’s sounds:

And here’s the sound collage we made:

Huge thanks to all of the team in making it happen!

Stuart Norton-Drew, Rachael Norton-Drew, Shauna Concannon, Dorcas Taylor, Lee Taylor, Angela Kale and the Code Club volunteers, Invisible Dust, Scarborough Library.

Image: © Esme Mai Photography

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