Interactive mixed media installation
Courtesy of the artist, 2014
AURALROOTS combines inspiration from tactile and aural sensory perception, based on the functions and forms of the stereocilia, tiny non-regenerating hair cells on the auditory nerves of the inner ear in the cochlea. The viewers can move sculptural models of these cells to mix 54 sound tracks based on volume and harmonics. These tracks can be changed into low, medium and high pitch compositions by triggering animations and graphics on a touch screen. The content of AURALROOTS is about how we learn through sounds a) as a growing embryo in the womb, b) as a daughter listening to her mother and finally c) as a female artist communicating with scientists. Speech occurs in the mid-range of our frequency response. In the Australian Aboriginal culture storytelling and listening were the main methods of learning about how to gather plant-roots for survival and for medical conditions. Some of this knowledge is lost – some is retold here!
1. JACK tries to remember about how the roots from SILKY HEADS (cymbopogon-obtectus) were used for ear infections. Once this knowledge was only passed on from mother to daughter.
2. DARRA talks about BRACKEN FERN (pteridium esculentum) and BUNGWALL FERN (blechnum indicum). The roots and leaves of both plants can be used topically against stings and tics or prepared for eating.
3. APANI, a young girl, describes the myth of the relationship between the GYMEA LILY (doryanthes excels) – a source of minerals, and THE BULRUSH (typha orientalis, typha dominigensi) – used by hunters for bodily stamina and to keep leeches away!
4. KALINDA describes to young women, how to locate and gather LONG YAM (dioscorea transversa) and PENCIL YAM (vigna lanceolata), roots that are main sources of minerals and starch.
5. CORREEN tells a story about how many women often come together to collectively hunt for BUSH ONIONS (cyperus bulbosus) -roots that are a good source of minerals.
6. TATYA explains how to wash, cook and make a cast for a broken leg or arm or out of the roots of DEAD FINISH BUSH (acacia tetragonophyllea).
7. LYN tells us how to prepare and harvest the roots of the CUNJEVOI (alocasia brisbaniensis) – and use it for stings, burns, and how to take the poison out of it for eating.
6. MARGARET talks about WILD BUSH ORCHID roots (cymbidium canaliculatum) – and how to make a great preparation for dysentery and bowl problems from them.
These characters are not based on actual people, however, the names of plants, what the roots were used for and the methods to gather and prepare them are based on interviews with community elders, audio recordings, written texts, videos and conversations collected by bontanist Tess Corino and myself (media artist) in Australia.
Actors: Fred Copperwaite, Khi-Lee Thorpe, Wandjina Smith, Lillian Crombie, Elaine Crombie, Jinny Smith, Lyn- Paulette Whitton, Lily Shearer- All presenters from the Koorie (Aboriginal) Radio Station in Sydney, Australia. Inspiration: AURALROOTS was developed through a residency at SymbioticA – in conjunction with The Auditory Lab at the University of Western Australia.