Listening Dune – A journey of bird migration

The Listening Dune in Zwin (Knokke, Belgium) is a site-specific installation that places the listener within the extraordinary life of birds.

Using full-sphere surround sound techniques an acoustical map traces the geographical patterns of birds and their movements through a variety of habitats. This installation is a unique collaboration between the international renowned wildlife recordist Chris Watson (UK) and the Belgian sound artist Els Viaene, with spatial audio engineer Tony Myatt (UK).



Chris Watson has recorded birds on every continent and here tracks their voices in passage from Australia to Northern Britain. Els Viaene made recordings during 2015 of the surrounding areas of Zwin focussing on the typical wading birds, geese, storks, herons, ducks, … Also during a travel to Iceland in 2012 she recorded migration birds from close-by, such as the Kittiwakes, the Common Mure and the Arctic Tern.

The journey of migration covers thousands of miles and is an extraordinary achievement which we have yet to understand. The journies are fraught with danger yet are undertaken by millions of birds each year. The sounds in the Listening Dune begin their journey in the forests of Eastern Australia and slowly range North across several continents and conclude on the edge of the Arctic.

We invite the listener to imagine being transported to these remote and special landscapes during their time surrounded by the dune.


Chris Watson: Sound Recordist / Els Viaene: Sound Recordist / Prof Tony Myatt: Spatial audio production and installation software / Johan Vandermaelen: System Engineer

Biography Chris Watson

Chris Watson (°1953, UK) is one of the world's leading wildlife sound recordists. Watson has developed a particular and passionate interest in recording the wildlife sounds of animals, habitats and atmospheres from around the world.

As a sound recording specialist and composer his works include many programmes in the David Attenborough ‘Life’ series including ‘The Life of Birds’ which won a BAFTA Award for ‘Best Factual Sound’ in 1996. More recently Watson was the location sound recordist with David Attenborough on the BBC’s series ‘Frozen Planet’ which won a BAFTA Award for ‘Best Factual Sound’ (2012).

Chris Watson releases CD’s on the Touch label, where he edits his sound recordings into a filmic narrative: “Stepping Into The Dark”, “Outside The Circle Of Fire”, “Weather Report”, and ‘El Tren Fantasma’.


Biography Els Viaene

Els Viaene (°1979, BE) started her work as a sound artist / field recordist in 2001. With a set-up of two small microphones she listens, zooms into and enlarges the aural landscapes surrounding us. The natural rhythms and textures of the sounds hidden in those landscapes form the basis of her work.

She uses these field recordings in artistic installations like ‘The Mamori Expedition’, developed in 2013, based on a 10 day journey through the Amazon forest. Her composition “Canopy Beat_Soundtrack of the Rainforest” received an honorary mention by the Prix Phonurgia Nova, Paris 2011.

Els Viaene’s work is shown and broadcasted nationally and internationally. As a requested field recording specialist she worked for different renowned institutes, video artists and art schools. Nationally as well as internationally she gives lectures and workshops around the topic of sound recording.




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