Stop, look and listen: artists’ startling responses to the climate crisis

Stop, look and listen: artists’ startling responses to the climate crisis

Dorset’s Inside Out festival brought audiences closer to nature with rock star-guided rambles, dirt-digging dances and a globe suspended in woodland

Have you held a seashell to your ear, imagined the sound of the ocean and felt closer to nature for a few seconds? In Geophonic, a new outdoor performance about deep earth processes, theatre-maker Lorna Rees runs with a similar idea. Or rather, rambles. We are slowly snaking our way around a 2.5km path on the Symondsbury Estate near Bridport, in Dorset, holding what look like shiny traffic cones to our ears and listening to the ground beneath our feet.

One of the new commissions at Symondsbury for the biennial Inside Out festival, Geophonic sharpens our senses to the environment and keeps them alert for an hour with a soundscape that includes naturally occurring noises, augmented effects, folk songs and even, for its finale, the Temptations’ floor-filler Shakey Ground. We’re encouraged to keep quiet and listen up: at first to the crunch of our shoes, the trot of two passing horses and bursts of birdsong. But, wielding our ear trumpets, we begin to hear recordings of bubbling water, wind and geological processes that have been collected from rivers around Dorset and from coal mines in Yorkshire and Wales, the sounds all played on little speakers dotted along the trail.

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