St. Matthew Island
St. Matthew Island is named for a remote Alaskan island off of the coast of Nunivak, and is a sound work (up to a 15-minute loop) and accompanying app /sound toy for touchscreen mobile device.
The work's audio is comprised of Alaskan field recordings, radio sounds, and World War II-era radio broadcasts.
St. Matthew Island was home to one of the most remote Coast Guard LORAN (radio) stations during World War II, and was also the site of an experimental caribou herd established on the island by the US. government in fear of wartime food shortages. After a series of terrible accidents resulting in the death and disappearance of a number of men, the station was abandoned, and the radio tower and traces of roads still stick out against the tundra. Once the island's only human inhabitants fled, the caribou population, left unchecked, boomed over the course of several years until they all inevitably starved to death.
St. Matthew Island's interactivity consists of a series of swipe and touch-initiated audio zone transitions, beginning with placid (if harsh-sounding) natural field recordings of the waves, rookeries, and wind on the desolate island in the first zone, and inevitably shifting to, at its most extreme, a cinematic cacophony of ghosts in the form of WWII-era radio broadcasts and real-time, live-sampled user voices chopped up, filtered, stretched, and merged with the sounds of crackling radio frequencies. This live recording triggered by a external sound creates an aural conversation between the living, the dead, and the place. Accelerometer readings of the speed, pitch, and yaw of the device movement also change and add certain environmental and political shifts-- wind, rain, seagulls, WWII-era news, and the sounds of stampeding caribou.