ARRIVAL POINT II: NORTH DUNE BEACH

As I made my way North along the archipelago, passing Île aux Loups, I found myself in a transitional environment — a very long stretch of sand dunes, water on either side. The sense of liminality was dramatic. Having just arrived to Îles-de-la-Madeleine days prior, being in a wind-swept place of transition was a reflection of where I was internally.

Sand dunes are one of the essential links in the chain of land forms which as a group manage to tame the wind and water as well as to shelter life. The dunes are a changeable, living and fragile environment. Changeable because these sand ridges have developed a sort of “mobile stability,” being constantly buffeted by wind and tide.
— From The Sand Dunes of the Magdalen Islands

I noticed a beach on the West side of the dunes, and as I considered stopping, I spotted a fox. A symbol of silence, patience and adaptability (amoung other things), the fox-with-hair-the-colour-of-dunes came quite close, sat down and looked at me. Then it began to look around. As we shared space, I felt myself arrive. Then the fox departed, heading South along the dunes. And I found an opening to the beach. 

Upon arriving to the beach, I felt like a scavenger. Driftwood littered the white sand, as calm wind and waves met the shore. I began collecting some large pieces of driftwood, not sure why. Then a tern flew by and I found myself standing on a piece of fishing line. 

The next step became clear: I partially buried two pieces of driftwood in the sand, and tied the fishing line some 30 feet between them. I then attached a contact mic to the line to record the sound of wind moving it. I left the mic partially exposed to the wind, so you hear not only the fishing line, but the wind making contact with the mic as well, and some of the waves in the distance. I laid on the beach for an hour, listening to hidden sounds and what becomes possible when wind interacts with material. Near the end of my recording time, I looked out to the water to see gulls and terns amassing, diving down repeatedly in the water, hunting fish I couldn't see.

I need to thank UK-based artist Helmut Lemke for exposing me to the idea of using fishing line to record the sound of wind. Last year we collaborated on a piece in the Bay of Fundy called Air/String Sun/Water. I highly recommend you check out his listening-based sound work. 

Following my recording of the fishing line, I walked a bit South along the beach, feeling in a silent space. I came across a purple-ish sand, deposited in different patterns along the shore (see image above). I've been told this sand is magnetic (or "magic"), so stay tuned for some future experimentation with it. 

After investigating the sand, far ahead I saw two forms on a small sandbar that looked like seals. Or bodies of some kind. As I got closer, I found two bodies of wood, quite different from each other, but very related. They had a weighted silence which has carried on into the days following.

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