Land Dive Team: Amphibious James was a public performance at the site of the James River co-commissioned by the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU and the Richmond Symphony. The piece was a meditation for the James and with the species that live on its shores, in its waters, and in the air above. There were three movements in the score by Joshua Quarles and three main components in the project: a Land Dive Team of nine participants meditating with scuba gear during movements one and three, a wind ensemble of nine musicians, and an Amphibious Dive Team (including myself) that entered the river during the second movement to send live sound back to the mix on the shore using full face masks outfitted with telecommunications gear. The first movement focused on species who dwell on land and included field recordings from the wetlands along the James River. The second movement incorporated underwater fish recordings as well as a meditation that I recited from within the river. The third movement was the “amphibious” culmination, including field recordings of frogs and the return of the Amphibious Dive Team to join the meditating Land Dive Team. The full transcript that was spoken from the river appears at the above "more" link.
Read an A Blade of Grass article featuring Land Dive Team: Amphibious James: "5 Art Projects Bridging Communities Across Difference".
Composer: Joshua Quarles
Dive Consultant and Producer: Jim McNeal of The Dive Shop Richmond
Diver, River Guide: Matt Flowers
Amphibious Dive Team: David Fisk, Matt Flowers, Hope Ginsburg
Land Dive Team: Jason Adkins, Haziel Andrade-Ayala, Eleazar Carreon, Lily Cox-Richard, Chioke I'Anson, Rachel Machacek, Jesse Rabinowitz, Mike Ramey, Peter Skudlarek
Richmond Symphony Production: Laura Bordner Adams
Musical Producer: Tiffany Valvo
Conductor: Chia-Hsuan Lin
Musicians: Noah Fotis, Ivy Haga, Vicky Hamrick, Kayla Hanvey, Jason Kincy, Alexandra Mattson, Joshua Quarles, Lewis Vaden, Iman Williams
Transcriber: Chris Edwards
Documentation: UFOclub Creative – Sharad Patel
Video Assistants: Vic Lowry, Zephyr Sheedy, Alli Wilkins
Sound Support: Vaughn Garland, Sound Arts Richmond
Consulting Biologists: Dr. Edward Crawford, Dr. Michael Fine
Animals in Field Recording Track: American bullfrog, Atlantic croaker, Black drum, Black vulture, Blue jay, Canada goose, Catfish, Cope’s gray tree frog, Eastern screech owl, Eastern gray squirrel, Green frog, Mallard, Northern cardinal, Northern cricket frog, Northern saw-whet owl, Red-shouldered hawk, Spring peeper, Southern leopard frog, Tree swallow, White-tailed deer
Printing: Will Connally
In Kind Support:
VCUarts Department of Photography and Film: Sasha Waters-Freyer, Jon-Philip Sheridan, Kimin Kim, Evie Metz
VCUarts Art Foundation Program: Elissa Armstrong, Chris Costello
Commissioned by the Institute of Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University and The Richmond Symphony. Curated by Stephanie Smith in conjunction with the inaugural ICA exhibition, “Declaration”.
Transcript of sound transmitted from river during second movement, followed by sounds of divers’ breaths. (Sent via communications devices fitted to the three divers’ full face masks.)
We the divers of “Land Dive Team: Amphibious James”, greet our companions here in the James River, above us – in the air, and on land. You, a collective of species, breathing with us, the flow of water past your gills, the absorption of oxygen through your skin, the breath you inhale from scuba, exhale through wind instruments, the rising and falling of your chest, the feeling of breath entering your nostrils, the subtle movement of your abdomen in and out.
We speak to you from the fall line of the James River, and acknowledge the other names by which it is known—above the fall line: the Monacan River, below the falls, the Powhatan. We acknowledge peoples who have lived on its shores for twelve-thousand years and all of the species who lived alongside them. We imagine this river forming in the Appalachian Mountains, flowing into the Chesapeake Bay, joined by a hundred and fifty rivers and streams before reaching the Atlantic Ocean.
We invite you to join us in this meditation with the James River – to bring your attention to your breath, and to return to it no matter what arises in the mind. To practice with us, staying present in your body and on this site, where you are swimming, sitting, standing, flying, and to sustain your attention to all that unfolds around us.
Thank you for being here, thank you for cultivating your amphibiousness, your awareness of this air, this land, this water.
Musicians, Conductor, Land Divers, Amphibious Dive Team in Place
Hope cues Mike, seated facing orchestra
Mike begins breathing off regulator, which cues team to “start the dive”.
All are breathing off regulators.
(0:20) Hope counts 20 seconds and heads down the hill.
(0:40) David counts 20 more seconds (to 40 seconds of Land Dive) and heads down the hill.
(0:60) Matt counts 20 more seconds (to one minute of Land Dive) and cues board by heading down the hill: *This starts field recording (Vaughn).
Matt heading down hill is cue for Chia-Hsuan to being conducting (starts roughly the same time as field recording track).
(Josh is keeping an eye on this from clarinet seat and is backup cue to Chia-Hsuan if she’s unable to see Matt for any reason.)
First movement begins.
Land Divers continue meditating with regulator.
At river: Hope, Matt, David get suited up, enter water and drop below surface. They wait for a cue that second movement has begun: *cue transmitted from board and *Jim’s cue from rope/shore
First movement lasts 6:48 and continues to minute 7:48 of piece.
Conductor Chia-Hsuan drops hands to end movement.
Mike takes regulator out of his mouth, cueing end of first Land Dive.
Land Divers take regulators out of mouth, ending first dive.
Movement 2 begins. Land Divers rest.
Hope speaks from River then stops her transmission. [Backup recording of this at board in case of transmission or dive issue.]
David begins transmitting breath - keeps button depressed to minimize beeping.
Matt joins, transmitting breath - keeps button depressed to minimize beeping.
Hope joins, transmitting breath - keeps button depressed to minimize beeping.
Movement 2 lasts 5:42 and continues to minute 13:30 of piece.
Chia-Hsuan raises hands and starts third movement. (Note to Land Dive Team: the movements flow very closely together so there is no noticeable gap, beyond hands of conductor.)
Mike is cued by Chia-Hsuan starts Land Dive
Land Dive Team is cued by Mike, starts diving
Jim cues Hope with rope from shore, Amphibious Dive Team exits river
Amphibious Dive Team and Jim walk back to tent.
Piece ends when conductor concludes third movement and field recording is quiet.
Movement 3 lasts 4:55 and continues to end of piece.