Some of my thoughts and ruminations on the subject of Why listen to animals?
1. No one knows how some animals sense a natural disaster is coming. Perhaps they pick up subtle sounds or vibrations in the earth. Maybe animals respond to subterranean gases released prior to tectonic shifts, or react to changes in the Earth’s electro-magnetic field. Animals of various species seem to sense in advance, in ways that is beyond current scientific understanding, through some kind of deep awareness what is to happen. Maybe if we were to listen to our own feet and trust our animal kin we might also learn about the earth without the need to mediate and fetish money – technology.
2. The Murray Darling Depression
Macroinvertebrates are a whole collection of bizarre and wonderful creatures that spend some or all of their lives in waterways. Some are soft and squishy, some have hard crusts on their bodies, and some carry a ‘home’ wherever they go. They look strange and fascinating. They live weird lives and many have disgusting habits, including their breathing organs in the same location as their anus. You find them in ponds, streams, estuaries and stormwater and irrigation drains. You may even find some in your swimming pool!
Many are insects, like beetles, and nymphs that are juvenile flying insects. Some are tiny crabs and prawns. There are also snails, worms and maggots. Fish, frogs and birds depend on these spineless creatures for food, and are an important part of the food chain for aquatic ecosystems.
Ecologists have found that there is a strong relationship between landscape disturbance and changes to the composition of aquatic flora and fauna communities. Some aquatic macroinvertebrates have been shown to be very sensitive to certain types of environmental change. This sensitivity can be helpful to scientists, researchers and landscape managers in identifying which water bodies are being impacted by land-use practices. Conversely, the same information can be used to identify catchments where land management may not be occurring in a sustainable way.
Freshwater macro-invertebrate sampling can be a very useful tool when performing a bio-assessment of a site. Biological information can be combined with water quality data to strengthen our ability to assign a relative health ranking to sampling sites. Ongoing sampling at least twice a year will be very helpful in developing more robust stream health data, when carried out in conjunction with water quality monitoring. It will also assist in identifying environmental change over time.
Waterbug Watch has adopted a easier way of sampling freshwater macro-invertebrates using an EPT Index as a scoring system that focuses on three macro-invertebrate orders known to have a significant number of sensitive members (many-not all). It is a simple metric, useful in rapid bio-assessment as it does not require identifying all taxa, yet still provides valuable information. A percentage value is established for a site from the number of sensitive taxa Ephemeroptera (mayfly), Plecoptera (stonefly), and Trichoptera (caddisfly) present in a sample, divided by the total number of taxa collected, this is then multiplied by 100.
What does a healthy underwater ecosystem sound like? does the hydrophone hold a key to understanding Health though identifying key species through audio signatures. Listen here
3. listening with your feet
As humans keep discovering, its all connected like the the fabric of our own bodies and there is no sense in isolating any one part due to its interconnection. It is about connections at every level, between seemingly unrelated objects and even concepts and this is where we find some artfulness.
This idea lingered with me during a residency in Nodar Portugal where I attempted interspecies communication using a device that engages my bio-electrical system. The portable Postcard Weevil with is its three-osc-ring-modulation setup and includes two ‘circuit-bent’ additions of power starvation and body contacts.
The attempts at interspecies relationships I engaged in, seen with hindsight, reflect a desire to communicate in a different language, albeit fairly naively. Yet my attempts callout to a thread of literature on ‘Bio-physical’ theories of Dr James Oschman that are considered on the margins by many despite its potential.
“The Earth’s surface is electrically charged and can push electrons up in your body. “ Dr. Oschman
Dr. Oschman explains in Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis, and Energy Medicine in Therapeutics and Human Performance, that energy is all around us, from the great vastness of the furthest reaches of the universe right down to the smallest observable particle. It makes everything manifest. It has been given many names, Chi, Ki and Prana. The study and understanding of this energy has captured man’s fascination since the dawn of civilisation. Energy Medicine is the practice of medicine using energy or rather the flow of energy as a medium for healing. It is based on the biophysics of the body whereas traditional medicine is, for the most part, based on biochemistry through the use of pharmaceuticals.
Energy Medicine takes the perspective that energy is a vital, living, moving force that is integral to our health, wellness, and happiness. Energy is the medicine, and energy is the patient. Bio-resonance of humans and that of the earth are worth listening to on a deeply personal level and as citizens. Perhaps this may assist us a species to stop mutating and maiming the networks that support us.
“The soul of man, with all the streams of pure living water, seems to dwell in the fascia of his body” Dr A.T. Still wrote in his third book The Philosophy and Mechanical Principles of Osteopathy, 1902.
As the old maxim states ‘Know thyself”, and yet here we have the unsung hero of the human body; Fascia is the is connective tissue fibres, primarily collagen, that form sheets or bands beneath the skin to attach, stabilise, enclose, and separate all muscles and other internal organs. It is commonly argued what the function and form of fascia is and does but what is certain is that it is a vital conductor of electricity connecting our bodies wholly.
It is influenced at every level by,
“waves of mechanical vibration, moving through the living matrix, producing electrical fields and vice versa - i.e. waves of electricity produce mechanical vibrations…”
Dr James Oschman, Energy Medicine in Therapeutics and Human Performance, 2003
Anthony Magen is a Landscape Architect and Acoustic Ecologist navigating the ecotones of culture. This navigation is facilitated through the construction of the built environment in a professional capacity, through pedagogy, soundwalking as an active artistic practice and an ongoing commitment to the World and Australian Forums for Acoustic Ecology.
Anthony Magen’s practice includes the presentation of neorealist abstractions in ‘live’ situations, small-scale interventions, audiovisual installations and photographic presentations facilitated throughout Australia.