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Friday, March 27 • 1:30pm - 3:00pm
Session 1 Paper Stream 2: Urban Water Sustainability, Rain, and Rivers

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Session 1 Paper Stream 2: Urban Water Sustainability, Rain, and Rivers

Julianna Gwiszcz: "Water and/or Housing? Urban Political Ecology and Human Rights: A Framework for Urban Sustainability"
We are increasingly becoming an urbanized world, one in which half of the globe’s population is predicted to be comprised of city-dwellers over the course of this century (Rees et al. 2008). This is especially alarming when contemplating how rapid urbanization compromises sustainability, exacerbates global environmental change, and puts vulnerable urban dwellers at greater risk for human rights abuses. Where inequality looms largely in and between urban centers, among industrialized and developing countries alike, gains in urban growth under the guise of “sustainable development” benefit the few at the expense of the many. This has links to an unsustainable capitalist “growth” paradigm that equates progress with production and consumption and spurs human and natural resource exploitation. Thus, urbanization creates a complex predicament where the advancement of human rights and sustainability may appear at odds with one another. For example, failure to confront competing interests between fulfilling the human right to water and protecting this scarce resource jeopardizes human and environmental well-being. Considering these concerns, this conceptual paper addresses the following questions: How does an urban political ecology perspective enable us to think more critically about sustainability as a whole? What does a human rights framework add to an urban sustainability approach based on urban political ecology? Finally, what are potential strategies or mechanisms for change (i.e. social transformation) in implementing an urban sustainability model that unites an urban political ecology with a human rights perspective, and what challenges stem from such a model? The latter has particular implications for the role of cross-sector synergistic partnerships. I draw on two case examples to contextualize the discussion: water and housing insecurity in Sao Paulo, Brazil and Johannesburg, South Africa. Both cases evidence deep-seated obstacles to assuring access to water and housing—human rights enshrined in Brazil’s and South Africa’s constitutions—where inequality looms and overcrowding of urban regions compounds the negative impacts of drought and the degradation of already scarce water resources. These cases help demonstrate ways in which an urban political ecology that integrates a human rights framework enables us to better deconstruct the intricate intersections and potential conflicts between the realization of human rights and sustainability.

David Burraston: "Rainwire Prototype: An Environmental Sonification System"
Rainwire encompasses the cross-cultural investigation of rainfall & its application as a medium for artistic, cultural & scientific exchange. The Rainwire project includes development of a prototype Acoustic Rain Gauge using "long wire instruments", and subsequently expanded through various collaborations in a range of creative, cross-cultural & environmental contexts. Rainwire is an experimental approach to technological appropriation of agricultural based objects for art and science, with particular emphasis on climate change issues and agriculture. 

Long-wire instruments are made from spans of fencing wire across the open landscape. Rainwire developed from using recordings of rainfall ‘playing’ the long wire instruments for music compositions. This enabled a proof of concept study to the extent that the audio recordings demonstrate a wide variety of temporal & spatial rain event complexity. This suggests that environmental sonification has great potential to measure rainfall accurately, & address recognized shortcomings of existing equipment & approaches in meteorology. 

Rain induced sounds with long wire instruments have a wide range of unique, audibly recognisable features. All of these sonic features exhibit dynamic volume & tonal characteristics, depending on the rain type & environmental conditions. Aside from the vast array of creative possibilities, the high spatial, temporal, volume & tonal resolution could provide significant advancement to knowledge of rainfall event profiles, intensity & microstructure. The challenge lies in identifying distinctive sound patterns & relating them to particular types of rainfall events. 

Rainwire is beyond simple sonification of data, it embeds technology & data collection within cultural contexts. With rainfall as catalyst to draw inspiration from Indigenous, natural, & artificial complex systems, artists & cultural groups are key to informing science & incite new creative modalities. At the culmination of the project it is envisaged the prototype technology will be ready for adaptation to a range of cultural contexts such as developing nations, & their water management, agriculture, weather/ecosystem monitoring industries. 

Previous work on Rainwire has been conducted on shared instruments; this paper presentation will provide details, reports and reflections on the newly built dedicated Rainwire prototype and collaborations, and include audio examples / images.

Leah Barclay: "River Listening: Creative Approaches to Aquatic Bioacoustics in Australian River Systems"
In our current state of environmental crisis, biodiversity assessment is critical to understanding the rapid ecological changes taking place across the globe. In the last ten years, there has been a strong emergence of non-invasive monitoring involving auditory recordings of the environment. This emerging field is commonly referred to as soundscape ecology and shares many parallels with other fields, including bioacoustics and acoustic ecology. These fields have an array of creative possibilities that have been deeply explored by practitioners including Bernie Krause, Ros Bandt and Garth Paine. There are now a growing number of international projects embracing auditory monitoring in aquatic environments. 

River Listening is a practice-led research collaboration between independent artist Dr. Leah Barclay and the Australian Rivers Institute to explore new methods for acoustically monitoring four Queensland river systems: the Brisbane River, the Mary River, the Noosa River and the Logan River. The initial phase of the project has involved listening labs, field recording, sound maps, performances and installations to experiment with hydrophonic recording, virtual technologies and community engagement in understanding river health and aquatic biodiversity. This paper will introduce the creative foundations of River Listening and highlight the preliminary outcomes from the field research conducted in Queensland throughout 2014. 

As the international interest in the emerging auditory fields of bioacoustics and acoustic ecology continues to expand, there are clear opportunities to harness virtual technologies to develop accessible community engagement around the creative and scientific possibilities of listening to the environment. River Listening provides a model to develop a truly interdisciplinary approach at the critical stage of creative development and it is anticipated the future results will be beneficial to national ecosystem monitoring programs. This project is a catalyst for community engagement and interdisciplinary thinking at a time when the conservation and management of aquatic ecosystems is a critical priority. River Listening fundamentally explores the creative possibilities of aquatic bioacoustics and the potential for new approaches in the management and conservation of global river systems. 


Mary Hood

Mary Hood, originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, born in 1966, is currently an associate professor of art/printmaking at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, USA. Hood received her Master of Fine Art degree from the University of Dallas, in Dallas, Texas and her undergraduate... Read More →

avatar for Leah Barclay

Leah Barclay

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Griffith University
Co-Chair, Sonic Environments (www.sonicenvironments.org)

David Burraston

David Burraston is an artist/scientist involved in technology and electronic music since the late 1970s. He had an innovative role in the foremost UK telco’s R&D laboratory (BT Research Laboratories) in diverse areas such as Artificial Life, Complex Systems, Virtual Reality, Spatial... Read More →

Julianna Gwiszcz

Julianna Gwiszcz is a Sociocultural Anthropology Ph.D. student at Arizona State University (ASU). She earned her Masters of Science in Social Work from Columbia University, where she specialized in youth development and international social development. Julianna’s research explores... Read More →

Friday March 27, 2015 1:30pm - 3:00pm MST
Stauffer B103 950 S. Forest Mall Tempe, AZ 85281

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