Stijn Demeulenaere is an artist researching the world through sound. He creates installations, soundscapes, performances, and collaborates with dance and theatre makers. Stijn researches the relation between place, identity, sound, and the phenomenology of listening, asking how we give meaning to sound. His work won prizes at the Engine Room International Sound Art Award (UK), the Split Videoart Festival (HR), and the Musica soundscape competition (BE). He was also nominated for the LOOP Discover award and the European Sound Art Award. Stijn lives and works in Brussels.
Zijlijn / Linea Lateralis
In our North Sea, under water, sight is limited, often just a few meters. At most it is about 30 meters. Sound however travels much much further under water. And for this reason it is central to a lot of the marine life, for communication, navigation, foraging and mating. A true sonic world, a language that is mysterious to us, and often beyond comprehension.
However, The North Sea is one of the busiest in the world, almost every inch of it knows some form of human occupation. And therefore the North Sea is also one of the loudest in the world, human sounds blanketing the whole sea floor. Noise from the countless ships, but also drilling, oilrigs, the construction of wind farms, fishing, and fish farms. At the moment researchers are trying to figure out what a normal baseline for background noise could be, and how it might affect wildlife. Some of the research is done with the aim of trying to regulate, and subdue, the human noise in our waters.
Zijlijn / Linea Lateralis is an artistic research into the relationship between the biophony (sound made by marine life), and the antropophony (sound springing from human activity). Stijn Demeulenaere made underwater sound recordings along the coast of Belgium, from the Western Scheldt right up to Dunkirk. Then Stijn travelled to Norway to make more recordings in the waters around Bergen. This way, he captured the soundscape at both the southern and northern borders of the North Sea.
Stijn brings these sounds together in a piece that, true to form, explores a lateral spatialisation of these sounds. Zijlijn brings these sounds into a structure – 6 speakers on a huge wooden beam pointed towards the wall, that explore variations both in direct and reflected sound, leaving the spectator to come up close or stay at a distance experience the composition, and the balance between biophony and antropophony anew with every new listening position. The spectator is basically it’s own fader.
The title of the installation, Zijlijn or Linea Lateralis, refers to the organ in certain fish that detects pressure variations in the water, and is connected to their hearing. This linea lateralis evolved from the same proto-organ that our own ears evolved from.