UAU: Ant Acoustics & Soundscapes of Amazonas

photo by Gui Gomes

photo by Gui Gomes

UAU is a multimedia research project on ant acoustics in the Brazilian Amazon. I first visited Manaus, Brazil as an artist-in-residence with Labverde in July 2017. On this trip I made preliminary recordings of ant species and their habitats and used these as the basis of several new music compositions. Myrmecologists Fabricio Baccaro and Erica Valle of the Universidade Federal do Amazonas and I have since embarked on a collaborative research project encompassing bioacoustics, behavioral ecology, taxonomy, music composition, and field recording. In the summer of 2018 primatologist/bioacoustician Tainara joined us on an expedition where we tested out field recording methods and established baseline data for a catalog of ant acoustics of the region. Erica is producing and analyzing spectrograms of our ant recordings to examine differences in acoustics across species. I look forward as we continue our collaborative research in ecology and art.

UAU: Music for Percussion is the first collection of music from this work in the intersection of art, ecology, entomology, and bioacoustics. UAU features 5 compositions based on my recordings of ants, the soundscapes of their habitats, and observations of their movement and form. Ants are doing so much of the vital work maintaining tropical rainforest ecosystem functions: herbivory, seed dispersal, predation, decomposition, soil aeration - and their habitats are in turn crucial to global climate regulation. Can listening to ants generate empathy and encourage us to do our part in countering climate change? Can listening to insects remind us how little we know — and that we are not in charge of nature? Can it shift our perspective and encourage us to consider a biocentric viewpoint?

Most of my field research for this EP was conducted at Adolpho Ducke Reserve near Manaus, Brazil. This preserve is becoming increasingly surrounded by urban development, and the new administration’s disdain for environmental protections threatens the very institutions that preserve and protect this area and the wider network of indigenous and biological reserves of Amazonas.

The second album of work from this research was composed at my recent residency at the Banff Centre, and will be released in mid-2019. This work has been supported by Labverde, INPA, ICBEU, UFAM, the Oregon Community Foundation, and the Oregon Arts Commission.

UAU was featured in the Labverde 2017 catalog of artist work
The UAU video, below, has been exhibited in Brooklyn, NY, Manaus, Brazil and Portland, OR.