Environmental Linguistics is an investigation of the relationships between language development, landscape and climate.
The installation is based on the study of the same name conducted together with Raviv Ganchrow as part of the field laboratory Terra Ignota Forum, 2023.

The starting point were Martin Gusinde’s phonographic recordings, which were made on behalf of the Berlin Phonogramm-Archiv in the years 1918-24 in Tierra del Fuego.
We developed an experimental approach that allowed us to conduct a systematic comparison of speech propagation and intelligibility in the field. The passage between Yendegaia and Admiralty Sound, which has been described as a possible historical “intercultural contact zone” and “communication pass”, seemed an appropriate place to test the interactions between voice and terrain. Among Gusinde’s recordings, there was a single recording containing only speech utterances (and not songs) with Selk’nam vocabulary spoken by Antonio Toin, recorded on 27.07.1923 in Remolino with the label Cylinder #4. The recording is a simple sequence of spoken words, each repeated twice.

In the installation that recording is played back to the place via a phonograph horn – with the same acoustic characteristic as the horn which recorded the voice almost exactly 100 years ago. A link is leading to an online archive documenting the research and granting access to comparative listening examples of the effect of environmental conditions on speech comprehension.

installation view, Punta Arenas, Chile, 2024

A group of Yamana, together with Gusinde (left) and Koppers (right), or- namented and holding dancing wands for the chiéjaus initiation ceremony (published in Koppers, [1924] 1997 fig. Xlla)

Antonio Toin (age of 28 by the time of the recording) © Martin Gusinde, Anthropos Institut, Éditions Xavier Barral + recording location Punta Remolino

Lapataia valley, Tierra del Fuego, Chile

testrecording at Bahia Blanca, Tierra del Fuego, Chile, March 12 2023 (with Kerstin Ergenzinger, playing analogue test-tone)

installation view, Punta Arenas, Chile, 2024

installation view, Punta Arenas, Chile, 2024