Life As We Knew It
Honored to have an audio piece in the group show “Life As We Knew It”…
discovering the ancient history of animals on our planet.
using living ecosystems as the starting point of sonic research
sculpting present day soundscapes to unravel the silent ones
listening deeply through the eons to the forgotten
It’s frightening but true: Our planet is now in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of plants and animals — the sixth wave of extinctions in the past half-billion years. We’re currently experiencing the worst spate of species die-offs since the loss of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural “background” rate of about one to five species per year. Scientists estimate we’re now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day . It could be a scary future indeed, with as many as 30 to 50 percent of all species possibly heading toward extinction by mid-century .
Unlike past mass extinctions, caused by events like asteroid strikes, volcanic eruptions, and natural climate shifts, the current crisis is almost entirely caused by us — humans. In fact, 99 percent of currently threatened species are at risk from human activities, primarily those driving habitat loss, introduction of exotic species, and global warming . Because the rate of change in our biosphere is increasing, and because every species’ extinction potentially leads to the extinction of others bound to that species in a complex ecological web, numbers of extinctions are likely to snowball in the coming decades as ecosystems unravel.
Echzoo is a musical sonic art project imagining the lost songs of extinct animals. I have had a profound connection to the environmental sounds of nature and civilization through my Deep Listening, meditation and music practices. The sounds of the living world are as much a part of the fabric of our consciousness as screens, motors and iTunes. I am creating this catalog of re-imagined animals sounds in an attempt to bring awareness to our present sound world and to take notice and care of the elements of that soundscape so that they can be preserved and appreciated.
Michael Reiley McDermott is a composer, musician, coder and sound designer. He has created works for video, dance, stage, installation, smartphones, multi-speaker arrays, wind sculptures, wishing wells and sleeping/dreaming. His practice explores the relationship between present moment awareness, deep time and humanity's personal connection through listening. His work integrates a daily practice of meditation, Deep Listening and textured sound worlds through a process he calls “sonic photography”. This process involves site-specific recordings of physical spaces re-imagined using photographic development and collage techniques. His aim is to reframe the everyday world as both a grand statement that stretches out in both directions of time and as an ephemeral instant of precious connection.
In 2016 he completed a certification program in Deep Listening studying with Deep Listening pioneer Pauline Oliveros. He was recently Artist in Residence at , Composer in Residence for Temple University’s BEEP Ensemble and Composer in Residence at Village of the Arts and Humanities. Over the past two years, he has been traveling at artists residencies around the world in Brazil, Iceland, Germany, Thailand, and India working on a sound design project of extinct animal sounds called Echozoo.See Michael's Website