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animation & exhibition

In Polish language, the word describing soil is synonymous to “Earth”, which I think is a meaningful coincidence. It’s interesting to think what it would be like to live in an environment such as soil. Communication there happens in darkness, and consists of subtle vibrations and chemical signals - so much different than our loud, bright world above. The ground it is quieter, but it has its own specific sounds, that come - among other things - from the organisms living there. Soil, which is covered in vegetation, becomes healthy and full of life, thanks to the decomposition of organic matter. Soil, which is bare, tilled, plowed and sprayed with chemicals, becomes a biological desert. Fertile soil is something that takes a long time to develop and very little time to destroy.


As I was researching the characteristics of the soil life, I came across this fascinating project from Switzerland - Sounding Soil, which is a combiation of art and science, examining the complex soundscape from beneath the surface. It was initiated by Marcus Maeder, who first used a highly-sensitive, self-developed needle microphone to examine the sounds from the soil. What could be heard was both very complex and strange; an orchestra of animals, roots and water moving through the ground. The project is now a cooperation between many institutions in Switzerland. I was kindly allowed to use the recordings in my animation, which I combined with subtle, ambient sounds to amplify the mysterious nature of the world underground. 

The audio was mixed, edited and produced by Marcin Szulc from Coastline Northern Cuts, which is an indie musical label, based in Tricity, Poland.


The exhibition


Animation stills


Concept & animation - Zuzanna Kołodziej
Recordings from the soil - Sounding Soil, Marcus Maeder, Zurich University of the Arts, Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology ICST, 2017-2020

Sound design - Marcin Szulc 

© Zuzanna Kołodziej 2022