Notes from the Tiny Conference

Section I

In the opening session, Thinking with Water – Thoughts on the Theory and Discussion, Katrin Losleben reflected on the project’s genesis and the insufficiencies that became obvious during it. Katrin explained the project’s current understanding of two of its most salient concepts, place and water, and highlighted their embeddedness in queer theory. Focusing on the feminist new materialist theoretical foundation of hydrofeminism as established by Astrida Neimanis, Katrin showed that this framework is insufficient when doing research in the unceded land of Sápmi. As the project’s central aim is to amplify local and Indigenous knowledges, she zoomed in on the specifics of the sea Sámi history – the similarities and differences of ‘majority’ and ‘minority’ population, Norwegianization, German occupation, and its scorched Earth policy. The questions of how the research can proceed in collaboration with these local agents, how not to essentialize identities and experiences, and how potentially gained insights can be integrated into policymaking were discussed following the presentation. 

Section II

In the section Soundwalks 2.0, Britta Sweers presented the development of the sound walk and sound sitting methodology, which is the main activity in work package I. Sweers clarified the strategy for gathering conductors and participants, the development and implementation of the preceding Workshops for Conductors, the implementation of eight sound walks and one sound sitting, and the postwalk interviews. The question of how to work with more diverse groups and positionalities parallelled the information of what had been done so far. She also presented the Manual for Conductors and the Journal for Conductors, which the Arctic Auditories team had developed and handed to the conductors in the initial workshops. Those are also available on issuu for public download. In the second part of the session, Britta and Inga Bardsen Tøllefsen, one of the conductors, discussed the experience of developing and guiding a sound walk. Questions of the walking methodology in a Sámi context/place, ableism, intergenerational listening, human-/non-human relations, Nature with capital N, relations of multiple senses, listening as an “ecology of attention,” and, finally, the role of trouble and pleasure in research were topics of the following conversation.

Section III

“In the first section of the afternoon, Notes from the Field, Angus Carlyle opened the presentation on Notes from the Field with the genesis of sound mapping, including both visual and sounding maps that refer to bodies of water. Angus showed how visual sound maps often restrict the depiction of sound to its source but also presented some exemptions (e.g., Athanasius Kircher’s Phonurgia Nova, 1673). From these maps, water bodies are often left out and remain blanks. Examples of ‘sounding’ soundmaps included Sung Tieu’s Cold Print (2020), Andrea Polli’s Sonic Antarctica (2008), and Jananne Al-Ani’s Sounds of War II (2023). Converging on bodies of water, Angus discussed Annea Lockwood’s The River Archive (1964–) and other works, Hildegard Westerkamp’s Inside the Soundscape #5 / Harbour Symphony (1986), and finally, Mere Nailatikau’s and A.M. Kanngieser’s 2024 contribution to the CTM X Intermediale, Oceanic Refraction. With the latter, Angus pointed to the role of feminist theory in the cultural turn and, with this, to sensory and embodied approaches that, in a feminist tradition, disrupt dualisms. Also, he referred to Kanngieser’s publication on “Sonic colonialities” (2023) and its call to refrain from the idea that listening is a benign activity. Angus emphasized one prominent mode of listening that explains the project’s approach and its familiar challenges: Listening to books, artworks, and films, and listening to listeners, all modes of listening to the project’s approach to listen to ‘expert listeners,’ sound artists, listening authors and beings who have worked to listen to those silences that Western scholarship in the Arctic had left unnoticed.

Angus hosted a listening session, deploying recordings made at fieldwork sites as a focus and framed in terms of the kinds of questions that we have seen emerging in the post-soundwalk discussions. In breakout groups the participants discussed their listening experiences and noted them on framapad. You can listen to the recordings here.  

Section IV

In the fourth and final presentation, Arctic Futurisms: Writing Water, Paula R. Mikalsen, who leads WP 3 together with Elizabeth S. Barron, talked about the work being done, including the creation of an Online Writing League (OWL), a literary database of fiction, grey texts and academic works concerned with climate change, futurism, resource management and hope, and finally the creation of an aqueous glossary of local words related to water. The premise of the work package is part creative co-creation and part archival constitution and will consist of written materials from different genres and styles. Paula considered the merits of a diffractive approach inspired by Donna Haraway, Trinh T. Minhha, and Karen Barad, which “maps where the effects of differences appear” (Haraway 1992). Diffractive reading enables the researchers to work with different materials from different disciplines, each with their own canon and jargon, as they will attempt to map some spaces, fictional and perhaps some academic, that envision the future in the Arctic or the North, differently.  

Thanks to

We want to give a big thank you to the many participants from the advisory board, the conductors, colleagues, and friends. You stayed in an online meeting for 7 hours, frequently took the microphone to offer your perspectives in a critical and supportive way. We look forward to the next gathering in October.  

Katrin Losleben and Paula R. Mikalsen with Britta Sweers, Angus Carlyle, Elizabeth S. Barron and Silje Gaupseth