RhumbLine: Plectrohyla Exquisita
Artistic Statement and Instructions
Global climate change has triggered a blaring silent alarm. This silence is a clarion call, a soundless scream from the environment itself for stewardship and protection. Against this silence, RhumbLine: Plectrohyla Exquisita (RLPE) enacts a sonic reckoning, calling attention to forcibly silenced non-human victims of environmental destruction, and allows humans to sound on their behalf in acts of sonic retribution. Portending a dystopic future in which acoustic ecology is encountered only through the mechanical reproduction of environmental sounds, the sounds of this installation are created by a chorus of robotic frogs—a recognition of the catastrophic global population declines amphibians are facing. The virtual environment the robotic frogs inhabit, divided into two web pages, invites visitors to become temporary members of this fragile ecosystem. The first page creates an acousmatic listening experience—listening to a sound whose source is unseen—in which the frogs are heard but veiled from view and visitors use sound alone to produce a map of the frogs’ collective formation along the contours of an imaginary pond. The second page allows visitors to peer behind the acousmatic “veil” that occludes the sound source from the visual field, see the robotic frogs, and control the listening experience of other visitors.
Each numbered button below corresponds to a robotic frog, perched on the bank of an imaginary pond in a remote location (currently on Long Island, NY).