Capture the turmoil of movement and transition
Arctic melting, willing migration, forced migration

The Project will develop a new radio show and potential live performance that melds together the practices of Kat Austen and Servando Barreiro to explore the turmoil present in the rapid changes in the Arctic region.

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In July – August 2017, Kat Austen visited the Canadian High Arctic during her Artist in the Arctic residency with Friends of Scott Polar Research Institute (University of Cambridge), Bonhams and One Ocean Expeditions. Here she began her artistic research into the process of transmutation in the region through collection of field recordings and water samples from the region, which will be used in the CTM 2018 Radio Lab.

The field recordings featured in the sound element of the artwork comprise a collection of interviews with residents and tourists, hydrophone recordings, and sonification of measurements of various Arctic waters using hacked scientific instruments. The sonification was achieved by circuit bending the digital displays from: a pH meter – used to measure the acidity of different bodies of water; and a conductivity meter – which measures the amount of dissolved salt in the water. Both of these measures change when  Arctic ice melts and flows into the ocean. The Shift of the Transmuting Soul will play music created from these recordings, and may also incorporate live sonification during the broadcast or in a live performance.

The Matter of the Soul on Github

Together with Servando Barreiro, we intend to prepare a radio show in which we process sounds recorded in the Arctic, focussing mostly on the edited interviews with residents and visitors to the Canadian High Arctic and hydrophone recordings, to create background sounds that mesh with live sonification of water samples from the Arctic using the pH meters and conductivity meters.

The Arctic waters, once trapped and unmoving in ice, are released into the world where they will travel around the globe through a turbulence of their own making. The measurements capture their freedom and the possibility of ensuing turmoil, just as migrating and travelling individuals are subject to disruption when they change their cultural environment. We are wrenched from the familiar and throw ourselves into the unfamiliar – both a challenging and visceral experience, whether ultimately positive or negative.

The ensuing sound work will capture the disruptive element of transformation – the loss and reforming that takes place during change and movement. The focus will be the highly energetic elements of transmutation – the soul wrenching that comes from experiencing transition and transformation, captured in words and music. We will create a new composition that will underpin a live performance where we will dynamically explore moments of transition between both artists synergistically, capturing and processing and transmitting the process of transmutation in all its turmoil, tumult and turbulence.

Arctic Melting Water Documentation from Kat Austen.