Première: Symphony | The Matter of the Soul at Howard Assembly Rooms, Opera North



Performance: Symphony | The Matter of the Soul

23rd October 2018
Howard Assembly Rooms, Opera North, Leeds

This performance is the première of the symphony from Arctic empathy artwork The Matter of the SoulIt will include live improvisation using both traditional and unconventional instruments, and will include sculptural elements as part of the performance.

Tickets available from Eventbrite

Kunst vs Climate Change – lecture performance at Fusion Festival


Thursday 28th June
21:30 ConTent, Fusion Festival, Germany

Can we learn to love others, who may not be human, enough to live in synchronicity together? Kat Austen will elaborate on multi-sensory ways of creating emotional connections with other entities in the environment. Kat will draw on her work in embodied, experiential artworks and will perform live a new musical composition from project about empathy with the Arctic, “The Matter of the Soul”.

First remix: Conductivity samples used by London composer

London-based composer John Morrison has used the conductivity meter sound recordings from The Matter of the Soul, available on Github under CC-BY-SA 4.0 license, as inspiration for his beautiful piece The Realities We Play. You can hear the characteristic rise and fall of the instrument throughout this haunting work, and most clearly at the very end.

This is the first time to my knowledge that the samples have been reused by another musician, an important step in the morphing and dispersal of The Matter of the Soul’s online identity, central to the work.

Première: The Matter of the Soul | Concentration

Performance at Spektrum, Berlin on Saturday 3rd March 2018
During Alien Organs, part of the Sonic Vibrations series, curated by Alfredo Ciannameo

Oceans are drastically changing. Seawater is less salty, and is becoming more acidic. The crisis in our seas is intrinsically linked to humanity’s reliance on fossil fuels. We release carbon dioxide into the air, causing temperatures to rise and ice to melt, we use them to make plastics, and we burn them to move ourselves around.

Two of my works specifically addressing these issues were shown at Spektrum, Berlin earlier this month when I debuted Concentration the first performance from my Arctic project, The Matter of the Soul, next to the Coral Empathy Device.


The performance,The Matter of the Soul | concentration, with live video from Hiroshi Matoba, is a sonic exploration of acid crystal immersion. By controlling acidity and salinity, scientific instruments scream their truths about the consequence of changing oceans.


The Matter of the Soul is an ongoing work comprising musical performance and sculptural installation to engender empathy for dispersal and transformation in the Arctic region. During a residency on the ship the Akademik Sergei Vavilov, sailing through the Canadian High Arctic, I made field recordings of the acidity and salinity of Arctic waters using hacked pH and conductivity meters. I have used these recordings, along with my hydrophone field recordings, in a composition that accompanies a live performance where I play the hacked scientific musical instruments by manipulating their physical environment with acid, crystal alkaline and salts. Forthcoming artworks from The Matter of the Soul are a sculptural installation and a longer musical composition with live performance focussing specifically in three-parts on the process of dispersal and transformation in the Arctic.

The Coral Empathy Device was exhibited along with the performance. This artwork is an experiment in interspecies empathy, aiming to create a conversation between humans and corals under anthropogenic influence. It explores differences in the way we perceive the world, and translates between a coral’s physical experience in its native marine environment, making its experience understandable to a human in their native terrestrial environment. Worn over the head, the device is driven by hydrophone recordings from the marine environment and DIY chemistry investigations into microplastic pollution near Norwegian coral reefs.


Works created with support from:

Piksel Festival, NYU Shanghai Gallery, Programme for Creativity and Innovation NYU Shanghai, Mono Shop, Friends of SPRI, Bonhams, One Ocean Expeditions, Polar Museum, Chemistry Department, University College London, and Cultural Institute at University of Leeds

Performance supported by:

Musikfonds and Re-Imagine Europe


Video: Interview at Opera North alongside George Monbiot by University of Leeds

Last night I had the honour to introduce George Monbiot’s Liberty Lecture at Opera North in Leeds, UK.

Ahead of his lecture, George and I joined Simon Moore from the University of Leeds to discuss our work for environmental and sociopolitical change. Here we are talking about the importance of complexity, hyper specialisation and bottom-up initiatives.

Watch the interview with George Monbiot and me online.



Exploring climate change with sound and touch

Fantastic news: this month I’m starting a new position as one of the University of Leeds’ Cultural Institute’s Cultural Fellows, alongside my new colleagues Dave Lynch and Christophe de Bezenac.

Starting this month, I’ll be working with researchers and students at the University to further my project The Matter of the Soul, which uses sound and touch to explore empathic response to climate change in the Arctic. More info can be found in this lovely article about my forthcoming work from the Priestley Centre for Climate Change.

I’ll be kicking off with a Culture and Climate Change event at the Priestley Centre for Climate Change on the 19th December, 11am.

Arctic Sea Ice