Hearing the Galápagos

Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again. And then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again.
—William Shakespeare, The Tempest

When we arrived in the Galápagos, we were instantly bombarded with visual beauty. Looking out of the airplane window, trying to discern the ocean from the sky, I realized that I had never seen something—anything—so blue. Throughout the trip, I was constantly trying to catch a glimpse—and a photo—of the strange, beautiful, endemic creatures, the plants, the colors, the sunlight. But I also had to remind myself to shift my awareness to listening to the island, especially when it seemed like there was hardly anything to hear at all.

“Hearing the Galápagos” is a collection of sound clips that I recorded throughout the trip. It features everything from airplane announcements to the magnificent moans of sea lion colonies. My piece considers and questions the boundaries between “natural” and “human” soundscapes. I also consider John Cage’s notions of silence and how this plays into an island like Floreana (population: approx. 100), which might be the closest thing to “silence” I have ever experienced.