Earthbound — In Dialogue with Nature

Marcus Maeder

«Edaphon Braggio», 2019

The black wooden plate outlines a map of the natural area in the municipality of Braggio, in the Calanca Valley/Graubünden (Switzerland), which is cultivated by inhabitants. Howling, rumbling, and humming sounds bring the plate to resonate.
Marcus Maeder’s installation is a part of the artist’s long-term scientific and artistic research into the acoustic realm of soil biodiversity. “Edaphon” is a word coined by Austrian microbiologist Raoul Heinrich Francé for the totality of underground life. Maeder used a custom-made contact microphone to capture the acoustic lives of soil inhabitants. Ants, springtails, spiders, grasshoppers, and other species use the vibrations and friction produced by their bodies to communicate and navigate acoustically.
The resulting sounds vary from soil to soil, so a forest sounds different from a meadow, while agricultural and highly cultivated areas are rather silent. Species leave such areas because of the effects of pesticides, artificial fertilisers or agricultural machinery.

Marcus Maeder (CH) is an artist, researcher, and composer. In his artistic and scientific work, he investigates areas, communities, and organisms under the influence of climate change, as materialised in ecological soundscapes and acoustics. He is particularly interested in making natural phenomena artistically tangible. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Environmental Systems Science at ETH, Zurich. Maeder manages the music label domizil and works as a research assistant at the Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology at the Zurich University of the Arts and at the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research. His work has been exhibited internationally, including a presentation at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference. Marcus Maeder lives and works in Zurich.