The sound of design this summer is surely the work of Cosmo Sheldrake, the musician and composer who has created a soundscape as part of design studio SuperFlux’s ‘Invocation of Hope’ installation at the Vienna Biennale for Change. Playing alongside the installation of charred pine trees retrieved from the remains of a fire-scorched forest in the Neunkirchen region of Austria, Sheldrake’s work helps SuperFlux’s audience to imagine life after climate change with a composition that samples hydrophonic recordings of plant roots photosynthesising under water and the noises of the changing atmospheres of the Sun and of Jupiter, a planet associated with positivity and new ideas.
Sheldrake also performed live amongst the brightly coloured Sustainable Development Goal totem poles in the clearing of Es Devlin’s Forest for Change, installed in the courtyard of Somerset House for the duration of the London Design Biennale. Celebrating World Oceans Day, his set included recordings of coral reef-dwelling fish, humpback whale song and sperm whale clicks.
A recent commission by BBC Radio 6 Music asked Sheldrake to create a mix that explored nature and wellbeing, which he did entirely from recordings of lamenting whales, spluttering coral reefs and many other sounds of the daily hustle and bustle of the endangered submarine world. The challenges of noise pollution and the importance of acoustics to health are often overlooked. Sheldrake’s work reminds us to take a moment to listen to our environment, as well as to consider the impact that sound has on all of our wellbeing.