Still from Whale Voice Choir

Video piece showing the Mouths of the Tyne Community Choir performing their own interpretation of humpback whale songs. It was recorded during a residency at the Old Low Light Heritage Centre, in the north east of England.
This video is a sample from a series of workshops and performances in which people form a choir to sing like whales. During these sessions, the performers learnt about how whales perceive their environment and communicate with one another. To restrict their senses, the performers closed their eyes. Some tried to hold their breath as if they were underwater. In their aim to vocalise ‘whale song’, they become more akin to whales and appear to attempt a kind of interspecies communication. This provides to some extent ‘intimacy without proximity’, a feeling of closeness to another species without being physically close.

For the opening of the exhibition North Atlantic Drift : Pursuing Whales, at the Old Low Light, a group of volunteers gathered to perform a whale song composed by Guðmundur Steinn Gunnarsson. The Icelandic composer used humpback whale sound recordings to structure his piece.

We live in an age where our impact on the sea has resulted in unprecedented noise pollution, reducing marine life’s capacity to communicate and hear one another. Tuning in to the otherness of cetacean sounds of communication might provide us with a tool to start understanding the importance of sound in their environment.