“What took 4 billions years to evolve is vanishing in the blink of an eye.”
According to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (signed by some 1360 world scientists and released by the United Nations in 2005), the current global extinction rate is between 100 and 1,000 times higher than it would naturally be. Immediate projections for the future indicate that this rate may reach 12,000 within our lifetime.  As a result of the direct human pressure on ecosystems (mostly deforestation and overexploitation) and the effects of human impact on the biosphere (as invasive species-triggering and pollution) an exponentially growing number of the planet’s recently estimated 8.7 million living species are going extinct. The rate of 30,000 species per year was already predicted in 1993 by Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson (estimates which order of magnitude has since been revealed correct by most current studies), which equals to some 3 species going extinct every hour. Current estimates do not even include climate change. This is all the more shocking if we consider that, at present, only 1.9 million species have been described, most of which have barely been studied, if at all. Of all known species, one in four mammals, one in eight birds, and 41% of amphibians now appear on the IUCN Red List of threatened species . We are facing the collapse of life itself.
This kind of information moved me, about 15 years ago, to dedicate my life to an interdisciplinary project that joins science, technology, and art to foster public awareness of ‘the most silent catastrophe of our times’: what has been defined as the Sixth Mass Extinction.
The ongoing ecocide is silencing forever the marvelous choirs of natural sound, the ‘eco-symphonies’ we have not even heard or recorded.
So we began investigating in the world’s oldest and most diverse primary equatorial rainforests, collecting three-dimensional sound portraits of entire circadian cycles. The complex network of inter and intra-specific communication found in these recordings is a relevant proof of the systemic behavior of the soundscape in primary habitats.
It is the sonic heritage of millions of years of evolution. We must save fragments of it in order to study, understand, experience, enjoy, and conserve it, preserving for future generations imprints of the disappearing sonic intelligence of nature.
Fragments of Extinction is doing part of this work.
In 1998, while conducting a field recording campaign on Italian natural soundscapes, I had the intuition that the biological sound of untouched forest ecosystems should exhibit a more structured behavior, maximizing efficiency within diversity. I realized that, if properly reproduced, soundscape recordings of these ecosystems could be powerful means for raising awareness of acoustic biodiversity and its heritage, now being destroyed by rapid deforestation and climate change. When in 2002, with the help of Greenpeace, we traveled to the equatorial Amazon to record in an undisturbed area of old-growth rainforest, my hypothesis was immediately confirmed by finding extremely balanced acoustic systems produced by hundreds of species of insects, amphibians, birds and mammals neatly vocalizing within stunningly regular circadian cycles. Since then, I have been pursuing research and integration between the scientific inquiry of these soundscapes and the ways in which their aesthetic features can be explored, interplayed with and rendered for the public.