Device for Listening to Night Falling

Device for Listening to Night Falling is a research object designed to facilitate deep listening in wilder places during the transitional hours between civil twilight and nightfall. Built from found materials during a residency at Empire of Dirt, we used this research device to listen to night falling (or is it rising?) on Arrow Mountain in Summer 2022.

The first wave of buzzing wasps gave way to mosquitos, then dragonflies, bats, and a chorus of crickets. Tree branches crack mysteriously – a hint of larger animals in the near distance.

Mosquitoes delicately dip their proboscis through the mesh, one hole at a time, searching for the origin of salty sweat, heat, and carbon dioxide. Wasps find their way beneath the veil and can’t find their way out again – adding an element of immediacy to the experience.

The nearby forest crackles with memories of a brown bear, musky and smelled but unseen, drawn by a barbecued salmon feast the night before and identified by scat in the morning.

As the dark falls, objects in your ears are closer than they first appear, but further than the listening device would have you believe.

Different sites bring different sounds – drifting up from Kootenay Valley below and narrowed into the cones of the device. The twilight wind, sweeping over the trees and valleys, illustrates topography in sonic space. Even the unfelt wind is heard.

As the sky dims in a gradient of oranges, taupes, and purples, human voices rise in indiscernible murmurs from the nearby studio, overpowered by the rustle of dry mid-Summer flora. A fire ban is in effect, but the smoke is sparse – a relief after last year.

The train horn echoes in the distance, answered by the yip of coyotes – two separate families, calling to each other long past nightfall. More wasps find their way beneath the veil, lethargic from a long day in the sun. Most doze or die, despite selfish attempts to free them.

Stars emerge silently, one pin prick at a time, until the sky is luminous confetti. Night has come.

Thanks to Empire of Dirt, a wonderful artist residency situated on the unceded & traditional territory of the Yaqan Nukiy within the Ktunaxa Nations, just outside Creston, British Columbia. We were lucky to return to these mystical lands to spend 2 weeks researching and making with 3 fellow artists, our facilitators, and a sweet baby – a project facilitated with assistance from the Canada Council for the Arts. More to come.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

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