Meeting the Minister

22 Aug 2009
Posted by timecurve
I had the rare opportunity for an American of meeting Australia's Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Peter Garrett. The occasion was the Sound Day 2009 activities this past week at the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra. The Minister was there to unveil this year's selections in the Sounds of Australia collection, and in between his announcement and Robyn Archer and Michael Morley's cabaret performance of historic music from radio's past there was a reception. Unexpectedly, we were introduced. Before his life in politics Peter Garrett was the lead singer of Midnight Oil, so we spoke briefly about that, although I suspect, by this point, he's pretty tired of having that conversation. Mostly what we talked about were Sonic Babylon's Sound Gardens. He wanted to know how they worked and what they sounded like. As I explained the technical infrastructure of Wi-Fi nodes and gaming engines, along with the artistic concept of ground cover and flowers (sounds universal and local) and how this all translated into the NFSA's sound garden opening the next day (the first permanent one in Australia), he grasped the wider meaning immediately and went on to add, “Wouldn't it be great if all the national institutions in Canberra could tell their stories in their own ways by planting them in sound gardens.” It's an idea Nora and I have been entertaining, but it was really interesting to hear it articulated by someone else.