Audio Documentaries and Features

Don’t miss! Pursuit of Beauty: Hurricane Bells

Our brand new documentary, Pursuit of Beauty: Hurricane Bells, airs next Tuesday 13th November 2018, 11.30am on BBC Radio 4, tune in!

What does climate change sound like? We follow artist Peter Shenai as he casts bells from Hurricane Katrina data and asks New Orleanians who lived through the storm to ring each one.

Over the last year, Radio 4 has followed the processes as he has struggled to create an aural experience out of scientific date from Hurricane Katrina.

Working with climate scientists at Imperial College London, he investigates how raw weather data might be rendered in 3D for casting. With atmospheric physicist Carlo Corsaro, he homes in on Hurricane Katrina, the giant storm that devastated the US city of New Orleans in 2005, reproducing the cone shapes of the hurricane in a series of bells.

In doing so, he draws on the symbolic relationship between bells and climate catastrophe: drawing on the iconography of bells as alarm warnings, as markers of remembrance, sadness or joy, or as alerts to bring us together in community.

Despite the setbacks five bells, each of which is intimately linked to a specific moment in Katrina’s development, are then taken to New Orleans, and a number of people who lived through the storm are asked to ring each one. We hear from New Orleanians young and old, from all walks of life, as they ring these uniquely resonant bells and reflect for us on what they mean for a city still recovering from a disastrous brush with the first hints of how widespread climate change might eventually affect us all.

Mixing voices, thoughts, sounds and ideas from London and New Orleans, this immersive documentary tracks the artistic process from conception to execution, including the challenges along the way, to provide a compelling new interpretation of Hurricane Katrina, and more broadly the implications of Climate Change.

Shenai is creating a new kind of art, viscerally bringing climate disruption into human understanding.

BBC Radio 4
Transmission Date Tuesday 13th November 2018, 11.30am
Presented by Peter Shenai
Produced by Matthew Teller and Adam Fowler