Captured Space is the collaborative work between Melbourne based sound artist Philip Samartzis and French composer Eric La Casa. It is out today via Oporto based label Crònica. Samartzis explains: “Located in the north-east corner of South Africa, bisected by the Tropic of Capricorn, is Kruger National Park. Bordered by Zimbabwe and Mozambique, the subtropical park is approximately 360 kilometres long and 65 kilometres wide, and takes in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga. Aside from abundant wildlife, the landscape contains assorted vegetation including red and buffalo grass, mopane scrub, and a great number of Acacia, Baobab and Marula trees.
Several rivers run through the park including the Crocodile, Letaba, Limpopo, Luvuvhu, Olifants and Sabie. Staggered across the expansive wilderness are bush camps and safari lodges, gift shops and restaurants, and various lookouts to view the flora and fauna.
This stereo version of Captured Space is derived from a multichannel sound installation exploring two parallel environments – the natural and constructed. While the natural world of Kruger is wild and ferocious, the constructed world of roads and settlements is pedestrian, designed to keep visitors comfortable and safe from the daily struggle of life and death. From the vantage point of a car one can witness a remarkable habitat comprising a familiar cast of characters. Yet no matter how far or wide you travel, one cannot easily escape the spatial constraints of the car, or the high voltage electric fence encircling the tourist resort. While African animals are the mainstay of zoos around the world, at Kruger the animals are the vigilant keepers of an exotic mix of people confined to the smallest of spaces for their own self-preservation.
The sounds comprising Captured Space were registered over ten days while Eric and I leisurely toured the park seeking recording opportunities. What we hadn’t anticipated was how limited our movements would become due to the stringent set of rules regulating the park. It quickly became apparent our recording project would be as much about the places we were confined to, as it was about the fecund ecology we sought to register. Therefore, all our recordings were made from inside a vehicle, on bridges and in hides, and within the enclosures where we stayed each night. From these vantage points sound always seemed to appear from somewhere other than where we were. Always at a distance, concealed from view, and frustratingly elusive. Captured Space offers a kaleidoscopic experience of the South African wilderness solely through the infrastructure used to facilitate access to a world inhabited by strange and menacing creatures. A spectral world where the soundscape is caustic, days irradiant, and nights tenebrous.”