Intertidal zones are coastal areas where sea meets land in a ceaseless interaction of low and high tides. Those zones are characterized by highly diverse ecosystems and inhabitants who have long adapted to these ever-changing conditions. But intertidal zones are also particular kinds of borderlands. There, human activities interact, collide, compete with and often disrupt other-than-human realms. These interactions produce specific practices, sites, temporalities, artifacts, and soundscapes.

INTERTIDAL ROOM is a soundwalk composition originally developed for Vancouver coastline near Stanley Park, an unceded territory of Coast Salish peoples - Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Səlīlwəta?/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəýəm (Musqueam) Nations. It is intended to be listened to during a period of slack water. It is a moment when tide is at the lowest point and soon about to return. Drawing on the fugitive nature of intertidal zones, this soundwalk intends to provide room for an increased aural sensitivity to the ways people have been cultivating, affecting but also disrupting various, also imperceptible layers of these complex environments. Using different sonic and storytelling techniques, the piece explores how colonial echoes still reverberate in and shape one's experience of those zones.

All sounds featured in this soundwalk composition derive from field recording sessions conducted in various intertidal zones that surround Vancouver and Stanley Park in particular. They took place between March and September 2020. A few recordings come from the archive of World Soundscape Project (they are listed below among background references). The spoken narrative that accompanies soundscape recordings, eco-responsive compositions, and experimental tidal data sonification, emerged from a combination of sensory ethnography, historical research, conversations, field notes, reflections and dreams invoked by regular visits to the intertidal zones.

Can attentive listening to cyclical rhythms derail our human obsession with the constant, linear growth and progression? Can listening to transient organisms whose lives remain usually imperceptible to us, reconfigure our daily conducts on a personal, collective, or even planetary scale?


You are invited to take this soundwalk during low tide and, if possible, in a coastal area, on a beach, or any stretch of land revealed by the sea when the tide is low. If you do not live in a direct vicinity of the sea, you might consider taking this soundwalk near any other body of water: a lake, river, wetlands, or similar. The site- and time-specificity are important elements to this work. Therefore, the file is not uploaded here for downloading or streaming round-the-clock. The streaming is constrained to the times when low tides occur in Vancouver. You can consult the tidal chart in the STREAM section of the website. Free access to the full soundwalk composition is available after contacting the author, Jacek Smolicki, by sending an email to info[at]para-archives[dot]net with a subject title: Intertidal Room.

Several collective walks took place in situ, near Stanley Park in Vancouver in September and October 2020. If you would like to schedule a group or individual walk with the author, send an email to the address mentioned above.

This soundwalk is part of Jacek Smolicki's international postdoctoral research. Funded by the Swedish Research Agency and anchored at the Department of Culture and Society at Linköping University in Sweden, this artistic research project explores the history, present and future of soundwalking and field recording practices in the context of arts, environmental humanities, and philosophy of technology.The project was developed during Smolicki's research visit to the Sonic Research Studio at the Simon Fraser University's School of Communication, in spring and summer 2020.

Script, field recordings, soundscape compositions, design, production, editing and photography by Jacek Smolicki.

Thanks to:
Barry Truax (Simon Fraser University), Candace Campo xets'emits'a (Talaysay Tours), Hildegard Westerkamp, Giorgio Magnanensi and Heather McDermid (New Music Vancouver), Coey Lunn (Institute of Ocean Sciences, BC), Brett Ascarelli (Consulting editor and narrator), Alejandro Frid (Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance, University of Victoria), among multiple intertidal actors and critters encountered on the shores in and around Vancouver.

Background Literature and References:
Adam, Barbara, 1998, Timescapes of Modernity: The Environment and Invisible Hazards, New York, NY: Routledge
Barlow, Peter. 2012. The primal integrated realm and the derived interactive realm in relation to biosemiosis, and their link with the ideas of J.W. von Goethe, Communicative and Integral Biology. 2012 Sep 1; 5(5): pp. 434-439.
Barman, Jean 2007, Stanley Park's Secret: The Forgotten Families of Whoi Whoi, Kanaka Ranch, and Brockton Point, British Columbia, Madeira Park, BC: Harbour Publishing
Couture, Selena 2020, Against the Current and Into the Light. Performing History and Land in Coast Salish Territories and Vancouver's Stanley Park, Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press
Daughtry, J., Martin, Acoustic Palimpsests and the Politics of Listening 2013, Music and Politics, Vol. VII, Issue 1 Kheraj, Sean 2013, Inventing Stanley Park, An Environmental History, Vancouver, BC: UBC Press
Lefebvre, Henri. 2004. Rhythmanalysis. Space, Time and Everyday Life, New York: Continuum
Robinson, Dylan. 2020. Hungry Listening. Resonant Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies, Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota University Press,
Wale, Matthew. 2019.From DNA to Ecological Performance: Effects of Anthropogenic Noise on a Reef-building Mussel, Science of The Total Environment Volume 689, 1 November 2019, pp. 126-132
Westerkamp, Hildegard. 2019. Disruptive Nature of Listening: Today, Yesterday, Tomorrow, in Sound, Media, Ecology, Milena Droumeva, Randolph Jordan (Eds.), Palgrave Studies in Audio-Visual Culture, Southhampton, UK: Palgrave Macmillan

Online sources:

Additional sound material sources:
World Soundscape Project Database, Tape Library, Vancouver/BC Collection, Reel 69, Fraser River Shoreline Tour, March 21, 1973, Chainsaw, 0'15"
World Soundscape Project Database, Tape Library, Vancouver/BC Collection, Reel 30, Downtown Vancouver and Deer Lake, February 14, 1973, Stock Exchange on Trading Floor, 15'30" World Soundscape Project Database, Tape Library, Canada Collection, Reel 91 [DAT C40] Lumber Mill, Ambience from the Distance, 5'55"
Samples of woodwind instruments come from an open access repository of instruments samples recorded by Philharmonia, a London-based orchestra. Source: