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Roland Levinsky, Building, Plymouth, uk2

BunB Conference to discuss Vanuatu Water Music and its connection to the environment

Vanuatu’s water music will be presented at the Balance-Unbalance (BunB) Conference in Plymouth UK tomorrow, an international event designed to use art as a catalyst to explore intersections between nature, science, technology and the society.

Sandy Sur from Vanuatu Leweton Group, Thomas Dick from Further Arts, Leah Barclay and Catherine Grant from Griffith University will be on the online panel for discussion.

Leweton Cultural Group hails from the remote tropical northern islands of Gaua and Merelava in Vanuatu, and live in a village in Espiritu Santo where they present, share, and maintain their unique cultural traditions and practises across cultures and generations.

These remote Island communities are experiencing the true ramifications of climate change and continue to explore methods to bring and wider global awareness and engagement with the fate of their islands.

The Leweton Cultural Group has attracted attention from across the world through presenting traditional performances including the Vanuatu Women’s Water Music – a cultural performance deeply connected to the environment.

The Leweton Cultural Group performing Vanuatu Women’s Water Music were a highlight for many at Balance-Unbalance 2013 in Australia and the community have maintained an ongoing partnership with Balance-Unbalance to make sure remote coastal and island communities have a voice in global conversations around climate change.

In 2015, Leweton presented a Kastom Ceremony and Water Music performance conducted in Vanuatu for the opening of Balance-Unbalance 2015.

This video also included a welcoming presentation from Sandy Sur, a community leader from Vanuatu and the director of the Leweton Cultural Group.

Sandy Sur’s research aims to highlight the value of Vanuatu Water Music and its connection to the environment and he believes the Vanuatu Water Music is now evolving in response to rapidly changing climates and Sur advocates for this tradition as a call to action.

He describes the Water Music as a message passing through space that connects with every aspect of the surrounding environment; the sound travels and transforms, but remains part of an interconnected mesh that allows people to understand land, water, nature and culture.

This resonates strongly with what Timothy Morton describes as the vast intertangling ‘mesh’ flowing through all dimensions of life and Steven Feld’s concept of acoustemology, exploring sound as a distinctive medium for knowing the world.

Sur and his community perceive sound and water in similar ways – a substance that is essential for survival with cultural and spiritual significance.

Sur recognised the possibilities of interdisciplinary projects and new technologies as a means to generate global awareness and inspire climate action.

This has sparked a range of collaborations that continue to adapt and evolve in collaboration with his community.

The panel will reflect on existing and emerging collaborative projects and possible pathways for assisting Vanuatu to deal with climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The conference bring artists together with scientists, economists, philosophers, politicians, management and policy experts, sociologists and engineers from across the world with the intent of engendering a deeper awareness and creating lasting intellectual working partnerships in solving the global environmental crisis.

The 6th edition of the BunB conference is held from August 21 to 23 of 2017 in Plymouth, UK, produced by i-DAT in collaboration with the Sustainable Earth Institute and Art and Sound at Plymouth University, BunB17 is being produced in collaboration with the North Devon’s UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Beaford Arts, the Eden Project and Fulldome UK.

The theme for BunB 2017 is “A Sense of Place”.

Dr. Ricardo Dal Farra who is the Balance-Unbalance founder is quoted on the event website with the following, “We are living in a world reaching a critical point where the equilibrium between a healthy environment, the energy our society needs to maintain or improve this lifestyle and the interconnected economies could pass more quickly than expected from the current complex balance to a complete new reality where unbalance would be the rule and human beings would need to be as creative as never before to survive.”

“Environmental problems, economic uncertainty and political complexity have been around for a long time.”

“What was different before was the speed and depth of transformations compared with today’s sudden changes.”

“The frequent occurrence and severity that certain weather and climate-related events are having around us is increasing, and the ability of human beings on modifying adjacent surroundings as well as distant places have turn into a power capable of altering the planet.”

“The arts could play a major part in helping the global society to understand the magnitude of the crisis we are facing, and in promoting the awareness around environmental matters and it could also be a very good vehicle to disseminate proposals able produce changes in our behavior and decisions, influencing our chances for the future.”

“Artists could promote inter and transdisciplinary actions focusing on our responsibility regarding the turning point we are living in defining the future of -human- life on Earth.”

Roland Levinsky, Building, Plymouth, UK.

Vanuatu Water Music: Nature, Culture, Future

Panellists: Sandy Sur (Vanuatu Leweton Group), Thomas Dick (Further Arts), Leah Barclay (Griffith University) and Catherine Grant (Griffith University).