An Interactive Website That Explores The Western Ghats Through Sound

An Interactive Website That Explores The Western Ghats Through Sound

Climate change is real and so are the many ways it manifests its way into our lives on a daily basis. And with the acceleration of climate change-related disasters and the unaccountability of governments around the world, it’s no wonder many millennials and Gen-Z-ers are living with gripping eco-anxiety.

But when push comes to shove, we can always count on art to confront it, to offer respite, and to give comfort and words to our feelings. So it was only time that artists and musicians started creating from a place inspired by the very real emotions and anxieties that climate change brings forth.

Known for its biological diversity and endemism, the UNESCO world heritage site that is the Western Ghats are an important region filled with complexities when it comes to ecological impact. Born out of an 11 weeks exploration of the oldest mountain ranges in India — the Western Ghats, musical artists Sanaya Ardeshir aka Sandunes and Krishna Jhaveri aka Citizenkna have created an interactive website. One that is a portal to the Western Ghats through soundscapes and stories.

Travelling by road, they were inspired by the world of soundscapes and circadian rhythms. After spending many weeks there creating field recordings and listening to stories from the region, the two of them started questioning why the many sounds they heard there are rapidly disappearing from our collective soundscapes.

It is in that breath, that this project Ears To The Ground exists at the expanse of the internet. It attempts to serve as a foundational brick in a constellation of projects that centre on activated listening, field recordings, the ethical considerations of using them in art-making, and the potential for climate justice through these works.

Talking about the project on their Instagram, Sandunes said, “We acknowledge that by making recordings, we are not actually preserving anything - except perhaps an illusion which, when works well, is a form of magic. The work of preserving and re-wilding is done on the ground in the Western Ghats by grassroots organisations whose work we support directly through manifestations of this project.”

As a part of the project, they will be hosting virtual and in-person listening sessions in August along with a special guest (yet to be announced) who is doing illuminating research in the Western Ghats through sound. The community meet-ups are focused on imagination, collaborations and knowledge sharing between researchers and artists. With the project, they hope to create a small and compassionate listening community.

In their own words, “At the centre of what we learned and gained from our time spent in the resplendence of the Western Ghats, was a feeling of connection - to ourselves, to the folks around us, and to our shifting environments. One that continues to reveal itself to us when we remember how to listen.”

Adding, “Key to our journey was the people we connected with along the way. Farmers, artists, naturalists, and permaculture practitioners shared experiences of living and growing up in the Western Ghats. The interviews reveal their relationships to the sounds around them, and tell stories of how many of those sounds have changed over the years, with some disappearing altogether.”

“A small snapshot of an unexpected adventure during the pandemic now sits here on this ‘listener’s imaginarium’. This website is a young exploration of the oldest mountain range in India, through sound. Spending time with headphones and recorders in these spaces had a profound impact on us and has fuelled us to share that experience as a way to reflect, pause and tune in to the going-ons in some of our most sacred environments.”

You can check out the project here.

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