humechochorus (hum echo chorus) is a series of audio works that has been specially curated by Bundjalung and Kullilli man Daniel Browning, a journalist and broadcaster on ABC Radio National (RN). The pieces offers a curated soundscape for the mind in a stream of consciousness blending stories of the past (echo), the present (hum) and an imagined future (chorus)
A creative collaboration between Browning, Urban Theatre Projects and Barangaroo Authority, the audio project features a range of commissioned stories and histories of the Sydney Harbour site, as well as interviews and spoken word pieces. All of the works feature the voices of contemporary Aboriginal people who to respond to the past, present and future of the Barangaroo site.
Inspired by the concept of 'deep listening', an Aboriginal practice thousands of years old, and based on a project that Browning delivered in 2011.
"The title is from a program I made about deep listening. I got to spend time on country with three women in different parts of Victoria. Aunty Doris Paton, Vicki Couzens and Lou Bennett who all talked about the active, conscious practice of deep listening and how it’s not just about a dialogue - it’s listening to your country for the bird that isn’t there, or the bird that returns after a fire went through," Browning says.
"It’s that whole concept of looking into the night sky and seeing the space between the stars: it’s not empty, it’s all about refocusing your eye, and attuning your ear. Another inspiration was three words that Lille Madden gave from the language of her Gadigal ancestors. They were instrumental in the way I think about what this soundscape has become a meditation on what country means and how no matter how much concrete gets poured on a site, you are walking on someone’s country —if not your own. It’s right there under your feet, over your head."
Browning describes the creative inspiration and differences in curating such a project compared to other mediums, saying that the biggest challenge and reward of this project has been creating sound that envelops the listener, and according to an architectural design.
"I never have to think about that in my day job, and with this soundscape I’ve tried to really get at what it means to be conscious of every beat, every breath, every musical note, every birdsong."
"I never have to think about that in my day job, and with this soundscape I’ve tried to really get at what it means to be conscious of every beat, every breath, every musical note, every birdsong. It goes with this concept of deep listening - being fully cognisant of everything going on around you. Creating sound that fits in a box, that works dramaturgically as well as sonically has been a really satisfying part of this."
All of the sound works are experienced in an architecturally-designed, state of the art sound pavilion created by architect Kevin O'Brien, a Kaurereg and Meriam man who is well-known globally for his designs which 'draw on Aboriginal concepts of space.'
O'Brien hopes for this space to give people a chance to take time from the 'white noise' of the world and get a chance to just be. He's impressed with how the project turned out, as it's a very collaborative structure that required the input of many people.
"I’m incredibly impressed to get the full effect and get to this state of ‘dreaming’. It means that the pavilion itself has to work with the sound and the light, and so when people are inside, the whole three combine and put you into this trance-like state so that you can start to dream, or daydream, and really understand some kind of connection to this place, as opposed to just passing by. That’s the whole point of the project, to make you aware of country." O'Brien says.
Urban Theatre Project’s Artistic Director, Rosie Dennis says, “Blak Box is one of our most ambitious projects to date —bringing together design, installation and sound for a completely unique contemporary storytelling experience for audiences. Daniel has curated an intelligent, layered and thought-provoking program which grapples with the complexity of urban development, place and history.”
"The box has been designed for listening, I hope they listen intently to the voices and the chorus of history, language, electronica, jazz, storytelling and spoken word. That’s all I want."
Browning hopes for visitors to walk away with a sense of connection and having stepped outside of their normal routine to discover something different. "I hope people come and listen openly, and that they just stop and pause for a moment. The box has been designed for listening, I hope they listen intently to the voices and the chorus of history, language, electronica, jazz, storytelling and spoken word. That’s all I want."
Blak Box is on now until the 24 June 2018. Times: 6-9pm Tuesday – Saturday or 3-6pm Sunday. Closed Monday. Duration: Six individual sessions running 30 min each. For more info head here.