Date: June 19th, 2020
Location4 E Wall St, Leesport, PA 19533, United States
Lat: 40* 26’ 43.452” N || Long: 75* 58’ 5.280” W
Altitude: 83.52 m
Link to approximate location on map: https://bit.ly/3bItTPg


We were drawn to a story in Towne’s book about a 1948 survey of the Schuylkill river conducted by the Limnology Department of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. One researcher named Thomas Dolan recounted a notable observation near Leesport, PA: “As a survey entomologist, I was searching for aquatic insect species. In spite of rigorous collecting efforts, I found only one adult beetle...The fact that no aquatic insects were found living at that location on the Schuylkill was indicative of the presence of acid mine damage…[and] coal culm (silt)” (137-8). This story was notable in our research not only because it documented specific pollutants in relation to specific river life, but also because it occurs to us that for Dolan, listening to the river was as systematically and specifically relations-based as our own practice. In other words, Dolan’s analysis was rooted in specific and narrow relationships, presence, and absence. He seemingly understood the river (or at least articulated his story of the river’s health) via listening objects of aquatic insects. We decided to return to Leesport, to see if we might find any insects (out of sheer curiosity) all these years later, but also to see what kind of bodily presence/absence might help us understand the place in 2019.

Input 1

 Lav microphone placed inside deformed milk jug that has washed up on a rocky embankment

Input 2 Contact microphone fixed on a raid can nestled between rocks along the shore

Input 3
Lav microphone placed in a drainage tube slightly offshore surrounded by rocks and leaves

Input 4

Hydrophone in water with interface gear responsible for capturing and mixing audio from all inputs


We arrived to Leesport and found a single bridge that reached across the Schuylkill on Wall Street. We walked beneath the bridge and began assessing the space, again, for both thematic objects (e.g., litter/trash), objects/bodies that reverberated past observations (e.g., beetles), or other objects that presented sonic and thematic potential. As with every other site along the river, we found no shortage of consumer waste/litter, including a perhaps ironic can of insect repellant. We also found some physical features of the bridge to be of interest, including a large drainage tube that passes beneath the bridge that carried and echoed the intermittent passing of vehicles above. As the recording progressed, a gentle rain began to fall, which can be heard tapping on both the plastic milk jug and the can of insect repellant.