Interrupted Nature

When visiting Jamaica Bay Refuge today, capturing the sound of the ecology, I came to notice something especially unique for first time. Paying close attention to capture the actual sound of the nature in the ecology, I was captivated by the sounds of the species that inhabit it. At first, my attention was caught by the wind, which was playing with the Fountain grass. The sounds of birds joined in, and shortly after – small bugs joined in, creating a symphony of sounds which only exist in Nature. One thing I noticed is that the quieter I sat still, the louder the volume of the sound reached. And as I pulled my recorder out to capture it, an airplane interrupted the symphony.


I quickly realized that the proximity of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge to JFK Airport is dooming the ecology to always carry the sound of the human intervention. As I attempted to take a 2 minute long sound clip, I found it extremely challenging to have this time frame recorded without the intervention of either an airplane or people speaking with each other while enjoying the walk in the ecology. I related my experience to Jane Bennett’s work Vibrant Matter (Bennett 2010). In her essay, Bennett explains that “non-human things and forces actively shape the bodies they encounter, including the humans who never fully possess or control them” (447). In the same way, the airplanes passing regularly through the natural habitat for variety of animal species, shapes the interaction of those species with their environment. They react to the sound of planes by quieting their expression, as they are interrupted by the roar of the machines passing in the sky multiple times per hour. This way, as Bennett claims, the bodies of the animals are shaped by the machines they adapt to while communicating within their natural environment.

As I was taking on paths which seemed to promise an interrupted sound frame of more than 0:40 seconds, I came to realize that every time I stepped into a new path I would barely notice a sound of any species. However, when I sat still for a minute, sounds began to be produced and the volume rose up again, as I noticed in the beginning of my visit. As people and airplanes passed, the sounds would become less noticeable, and when the interruption vanished, it’ll regain its richness and complexity. As much as I was becoming frustrated with the process of trying to capture the “natural” sound of the nature on the site, I gradually started to realize that what I was experiencing was, indeed what is – or in this case – had become natural for the ecology. As much as I was projecting the idea in my mind that Nature should sound “natural”, the reality proved me wrong every single time. This is how I ended up with sound clips which contain both the sounds of Nature of the ecology, in addition to the humans visiting the site on Sunday afternoon, and the airplanes taking off in proximity to the site.


This newly found “inter”- connection between the ecology and the human intervention within it is a vivid example of what Henk Oosterling explains in his essay “Interest/ Interesse” in Posthuman Glossary. As Oosterling recognizes, mirrored by “Nietzschean nihilism” (209), the notion of “inter” -relation could take context as variety of interpretations. As the author suggests, “inter” is at the same time in the contexts of “being-in-common, being-with, (and) being-in-between” (210). Later, Oosterling cites Nancy in Being Singular Plural (1996), between “has neither a consistency nor continuity of its own. It does not lead from one to the other . . . It is neither connected nor unconnected” (210) Similar to the airplanes and the human voices within the sounds of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, “it is that which is at the heart of a connection, the interlacing of strands whose extremities remain separate even at the very centre of the knot”, or as Nancy states “the law of touching is separation.” Similarly then, the planes roaring in the sky are separate by being different from the ecology, and at the same time they are part of it.”


Iva Porfirova

~ by ivasophia on October 15, 2018.

5 Responses to “Interrupted Nature”

  1. Underinformed: I think you explained the theory/concept of the inter connection between ecology and human intervention very well. However, there wasn’t a lot of site based research in this blog post. It would have been better if you could provide more information on the Jamaica Bay Wildlife and its precarity more clearly.

  2. Informative
    I like the contents of your article. I just feel like the pictures you chose are not so informative about your ecology site. I wish to see more pictures that remind me of the precarity of the problem.

  3. Understyled :(, I really like all the references to the reading, but I would love to see how this area made you feel more! It’s such an interesting thing to see the contrast of nature and engineering in New York City, especially in the Queen’s coastal area. You could insert a couple sentences about how the sounds you collected made you feel and sense (like the JFK example).

  4. informative/ knowledge: While I like the style of your blog post and analysis of the concepts, I think you could have provided more information about actual policies and problems that are governing and endangering the ecology. The majority of this blog post is based on your personal impressions and the pictures also do not really inform readers about the precarity that you explain in your post. I would love to see more concrete site-based research and informative pictures!

  5. I appreciate the details you wrote about your ecology site, specifically when you mentioned how you noticed that there were no sounds of life, “As I was taking on paths which seemed to promise an interrupted sound frame of more than 0:40 seconds, I came to realize that every time I stepped into a new path I would barely notice a sound of any species.”, though you were informative about your journey, I still feel like the overall post is Understyle, because reading it, I still feel like I’m missing the point or the precarity; and Henk Oosterling piece on “inter”, I didnt really understand the correlation, or the main point.

    ~Rocket G

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