Artists serenade beluga whales in northern Manitoba
Winnipeg pair has made underwater sound system for whales near Hudson Bay
Two Winnipeg artists are holding a summer concert series on the western edge of Hudson Bay for their largest fans: thousands of beluga whales.
What began as an interest in aquatic culture for Laura Magnusson and Kaoru Ryan Klatt has turned into a multi-year experimental project that brings art to the marine mammals.
Since 2011, Magnusson and Klatt have been taking a boat onto the Churchill River, which flows into Hudson Bay, with a home-made underwater sound system.
They perform for the whales and see what happens, and they say the whales do respond.
"They're very gregarious," Magnusson told CBC News.
"There's been some special times when there's almost been some mimicry between us and the belugas, and that feels like a point of connection."
Klatt said he believes the belugas like what they've heard. YouTube videos of past expeditions show numerous whales congregating at their boat.
"They gather in huge pods around us sometimes, and that tells us that they're engaged with what we're doing," he said.
Last week, the pair began a 75-day expedition that involves travelling aboard a special "sculptural sea vessel" to "build a sustained but non-invasive presence to foster bonds between humans and whales," according to the project's website.
Ten other musicians and interdisciplinary artists are joining Klatt and Magnusson to perform new works they've created specifically for the whales.
The sound system broadcasts the performances underwater, while a hydrophone setup allows the artists to hear how the whales react.
The latest expedition will be the focus of Becoming Beluga, a feature film that Klatt is directing.
Magnusson and Klatt are also testing a high-tech "bionic whale suit" that would enable the wearer to swim and communicate like a beluga whale.