Audio Cultures: Manly Dam

room 1 ECHOES


~Find yourself~

Welcome to Manly Dam, home to the most divine flora and fauna swans. Take a look around and take in the sights and sounds. Perhaps you see a young family having a picnic with the cheekiest of ducks darting in and out trying to grab a snack from one of the laughing children. Or maybe you’ll hear the sounds of birds chirping in the trees, crafting the most harmonious of melodies. Whatever you take in, know it’s the simple joys, so immerse yourself in nature and breathe in… and out…

Growing up I’ve always pondered the ideas of the future of humanity, specifically in the realm of the human psyche and our obsession with progress. I’ve had a deep passion for philosophy, which led to often questioning the world and our values. This project further attempts to delve deeper into the psyche of the human mind and begs the question of whether we truly are evolving in the right path… Are we losing our so-called humanity and identity in search of minute pleasure’s? Is the constant demand for society’s approval hindering our originality and desire to be ourselves? These are the questions I ask, as growing up in this modern age creates uniquely significant issues that only Generation Z knows. The pressure to be the best. The desire to be liked. The image you need to portray. All of these ideals are broadcast on a silver screen, and after seeing all these stars shining as bright as the sun, people forget how quickly a fire burns out.

Mental health should be focused as a priority in this age, however many youth don’t realise how disconnected from their own minds they truly are. Peaceful but constant mindfulness should help calm their minds. No-one realises how fast they’re truly moving in life until they slow down to reflect. Lying on the grass, lazily watching the sun’s rays reflect off the azure sea like phoenix’s wings, the titters of critters as they forage for food as the scent of petrichor gently wafts through the air… It’s times like this where you find yourself feeling free.

Manly Dam is on traditional land of the Indigenous Garigal Clan of the Guringai people. Not only is this reserve a popular spot for picnics and family gathering, but it is also rich with a diverse population of endangered native creatures that have survived on this Earth for thousands of years. This luscious dam deserves to be protected, and knowing this information makes your walk through the wondrous greenery that much more immersive, allowing for contemplation on the beauty of our surroundings.

Alan Watt’s speech from ‘The Art of Meditation’ has proved a vital foundational idea for my project, kickstarting my interest in the acts of self-reflection. Specifically all his quotes about the human condition and the concept of ‘overthinking.’ “A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts. So, he loses touch with reality and lives in a world of illusions. By thoughts I mean specifically “chatter in the skull”... perpetual and compulsive repetition of words... of reckoning and calculating.” Alan Watts is truly an inspiration and a figure of wisdom that those should seek out when drawing in their minds.

My project is full of ambience and effects recording all throughout the realm of Manly Dam. Utilising the microphone, I attempted to record the noises of the wildlife from duck’s to crows. While in the middle of this action, it hit me how peaceful nature truly is when your mind is focused on your surroundings. My aim for this project is to give the listener the same sense of nonsensical nostalgia that comes out of staying present. My idea of immersion is reinforced by the use of pans and delicate volume control to make the listener feel like they’re living free. And dear listener, there will also be a surprise near the end of the project… This jarring sensation was further brought to light through the use of ProTool’s reverb, delay and stretching tools! I feel like this placed more meaning onto the theme of anxiety.

In essence, my goal of this project was to draw awareness to the inner self and how much potential you can discover when you discipline your mind. Calm yourself and orientate yourself in the present. I promise you’ll come away from my walk with a faint smile and a deeper outlook on nature and humanity. Remember you don’t need to prove yourself, you’re good enough as you are. Now go! Tell someone close to you how much they mean to you. Their smile will be worth it all.

By Nicholas Pang

Berto, R. (2005). Exposure to restorative environments helps restore attentional capacity. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 25(3), 249–259.

‌How Modern Life Became Disconnected from Nature. (2017). Greater Good.

Hultgren, J. (2015, May 31). MindFullyAlive. MindFullyAlive.,..%20of%20reckoning%20and%20calculating.

‌onsareblog. (2016, November 17). THE IRONY OF LIFE: YOU NEVER KNOW THE VALUE OF A PERSON UNTIL THEY’RE GONE! Onsareblog; onsareblog.




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