Australian Sound Artist

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Trip to the NFSA - Canberra

Hands-on exhibit, NFSA 2012
I found myself wandering through the entrance to the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) in Canberra just after the weekend. My only wish was that I had made it there earlier in the day as the Library collection closes at 3 - regardless - it was a bit of a treasure trove worth rumaging through for a dose of Australian history. They have a small and intimate theatre that shows a selection of footage, movies and moving imagery, depending on the program at the NFSA. While I was there I watched some old footage of some of Australia's first travellers to the Antactic (With Sir Douglas Mawson). Was pretty entertaining listening to the tales of the photographer that Mawson selected to take with him on the trip and of course, the weather conditions were brutal. I know that travellers today experience the same conditions but even considering the technology of the travel wear and equipment (shoes, jackets, thermals) now compared to then, made you aware (as the observer) of just how savage the trip to Antarctica would have been in the early 1900's. As a photographer, your dedication to your art would been unquestionable...

Sound Effects Booth, NFSA 2012
They had managed to salvage an old sound effects module as commonly used in radio and movies alike (to your left). The carved wooden 'feet' for the sound of walking and footsteps sounded unreal - triggering memory recall of cartoons and old movie scenes where a character is hiding from someone behind a closed door, as they slowly walk across the room.... Currently, the NFSA is asking for nominations for the 'Sounds of Australia, 2012' - will have to think about this one for a bit. The collection was launched in 2007 and has since had sounds from songs, radio, comedies and speeches added.

It's worth mentioning that the Mediatheque at ACMI in Melbourne also provides access to the NFSA's collection and all for free to the public. Again, give yourself plenty of time though. Sound and vision are time based art forms and it is more than easy to spend a day in Mediatheque booth, watching footage of melbourne's 'Sharpies' movement from the early 70's - or scrolling through the recording snippets in their data base.