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The Accidental Paradise

III. The Accidental ParadiseIt was the bursting of a dam that created, by the beginning of the 20th century, California’s largest lake. 70 km long, 25 km wide, the Salton Sea is situated close to the Mexian border in the Colorado desert in what was formerly the Salton sink. One hundred years ago, the population gladly accepted the flooding of railway lines and small settlements, as the new lake seemed to provide endless opportunities: The Salton Sea turned into the Californian riviera, as bathing resorts, marinas and lovely housing areas were built, meeting points for Hollywood’ beauties and millionaires, for anglers, water sport enthusiasts.Stilll, after only a few decades, severe weather caused the sea to flood the newly-built paradise. On the other hand it became clear that the sea that doesn´t possess a natural effluent could not cope with constant discharges from plantations and settlements. News of enormous fish dieoffs made the headlines. People started to leave, many a dream went up in smoke. Today, the sea is again deserted. Its white beaches consist of fish bones, settlements consist only of paved roads without houses. The sea is steadily getting saltier, water birds thrive and die. It seems to be one of these places where paradise and apocalypse have come together.The Composition The Accidental Paradise is a poetical documentation involving sounds and photos of a location where man’s intervention hasn’t turned out positively. What remains? This is what it could be like... And this is what it’s like right now.The Salton Sea is a location of the Anthropocene. A hybrid place has been created from both natural conditions and cultural acts; the natural landscape is, at the same time, a product of art and culture. Neither the term „paradise“ nor the term „apocalypse“ apply.The first steps of the production implied recordings on site, looking for acoustic tracks and traces originating directly from the historic events – traces, that acoustically symbolize the history of the Salton Sea as well as, of course, the present soundscape.Research trip 2012. Expansive field recordings, photography, video. Apart from conventional microphones, contact mikes as well as hydrophones were used, broadening the familiar listening perspective. The composition works, on a formal level, with a sequence of acoustic images. Thus, sound events are not composed to form an acoustic „film“, but rather elaborated as individual snapshots. It is the composer’s objective to create sound surfaces based on the acoustic material, sound „stills“, to freeze sounding moments: Snapshots isolated from the flow of time, noises, drones, atmospheres, clicks and crackles.The time dramaturgy of the composition is reduced to the sequence of individual moments with a complex staggered arrangement. It is only the total of these elements, the layerings of the individual images and their arrangement or duration that provides a semantic level, portraying a landscape of highly symbolic power.Radio coproduction Deutschlanradio Kultur, SWR Baden Baden.In collaboration with Goethe InstitutPhotography PortfolioVideo on VimeoAudio on Soundcloud.

Audio / Photo

The Salton Sea