Arctic Auditories Tiny Conference

We’re entering the new year with intention and reflection, and on Feb 1-2, we are gathering all our participants, guides, friends, and colleagues to join us for our Tiny Conference. 

Each project member will give a short presentation on their contribution to Arctic Auditories in their respective fields and disciplines, and share some works in progress.

While this full-day event is for our consortium (all the folks from the community involved in the project) only, this blog is dedicated to documenting and informing the public of our activities. So, for those who can’t attend: among our acticities, we’ll delve into methodological discussions on the evolution of soundwalks with one of our guides, we’ll take a look at some field notes, pictures and of course, some audio-materials.  

The first day will conclude with a talk from artist Margrethe Pettersen on her ongoing “Remembering with Rivers” project. The event is open to the public, free and streams on Zoom. Tickets available here.

New Project means New Notebook.

New Project means New Notebook.

Whenever I’m working on a project, I have a dedicated notebook on the go. I’m not precious about these as artefacts – at the end of each year, I type up and photograph any relevant pages before recycling. The images accompanying this post by @anguscarlyle are all from my 2023 Arctic Auditories notebook.

My notebooks have all kinds of functions. At their most pretentious, there are affinities with what Michael Taussig has to say about the notebook in “I Swear I Saw This: Drawings in Fieldwork Notebooks, Namely My Own” in a quote I’ve used often in class: “the fieldwork diary is built upon a sense of failure—a foreboding sense that the writing is always inadequate to the experience it records. Nevertheless, on rereading by its author, the diary has the potential to bring forth a shadow text that can simulate the experience that gave birth to the diary entry, not only for what is said, but more likely for what is omitted yet exists in gestures between the words. This is what Barthes called the ‘role of the Phantom, of the Shadow’”.

Though Taussig talks of the notebook’s resemblance to “a magical object in a fairytale” and suggests “the point is that a fieldworker’s diary is about experience in a field of strangeness,” I try and keep journals that are more ordinary, their details stretching (with the field itself) to include what happens here, where I live in the UK, as well as what goes on in Tromsø / Romssa and, in parallel, to extend the timeframe from the period away to hours spent preparing and reflecting. Some texts and drawing were made there, away (the two grey mountains were rendered with boot polish in the rain after a hike up a valley, the colours added later in my cabin, the written place names after I’d returned to the UK). Some texts and drawings only appeared here and later (the light blue writing on the page with the leaf include doodles made during a Teams meeting). Going through my photos and deciding which of these to print out and add to the journal can help recirculate memories (though, what was not photographed might struggle to raise a shadow).


Archival Work in Arctic Auditories

One aspect of our project involves exploring archives, and my colleagues will be looking at historical and meteorological sources to achieve this. Another aspect relates to the languages that address the Arctic and others will be adapting a glossary for this and creating an Online Writers League (OWL) and other collaborators will turn to this work in the near future. What I’ve been doing falls, in a sense, between those two dimensions: I’m listening to circumpolar northern literature – mainly, but not exclusively, European materials – to find how the acoustic atmospheres of the arctic regions are heard in different writings. I’ve been listening to novels, memoirs, artist catalogues, theoretical texts, trying to keep an ear open for recurring themes. I’ve also strayed a little and watched films, gone to exhibitions, and I have a number of soundworks that I’m looking forward to engaging with.

(The idea of hearing literature was something I attempted in an earlier project in Okinawa, where I listened to war diaries by civilians, Japanese and American soldiers to get a sense of the sounds of a conflict which, for all its utter brutality, did not leave many recordings).

As a work in progress, very much an accumulation of first impressions – so don’t @ me with typos – I’ve been keeping a blog of what I’m learning from my literary listening. Next week I’ll share more about what I’ve been reading and will invite you to suggest new works for me to discover but for now if you want to have a browse, my literary listening notebook is here.

A photograph of grey plywood shelves with untidily arranged books, a CD and a vinyl record. A crystal and some sheep wool are also on the shelf.


Creating the artwork for Arctic Auditories – Background and Reflections

Creating the artwork for Arctic Auditories – Background and Reflections

Hi, I’m Jane, the one behind the artwork for Arctic Auditories. I’m a self-employed artist and illustrator and joined this wonderful group of people and their project in 2022 to support the visualisation of their emerging work.

My idea for the logo and background artwork for Arctic Auditories was to create a series of images that visualize the diverse and changing sounds, climate, water, and land of the Arctic region. By using ink and watercolour on wet paper, I could create beautiful bleeds and blooms between areas of colour and allow the watercolour to flow on the paper and create different structures and shapes which represent land and seascapes (hydrosphere).

The transparency of the colour allowed me to overlay structures (which I have also done digitally) to create a composite image to show the different dynamics of sounds.

Some of the watercolours I created myself using algae and sediment from the Arctic Ocean because I wanted to add to the story of the artwork in a way that aligns with the project and its deep connection to water and place.

During this process, my little art studio looked a bit like a small lab, but it is always amazing to see what colors you can make from different natural ingredients and how you connect with and learn from nature when you work through this process.

For the website, I animated the background layers together because animations evoke strong emotions and can speak to us on a deeper level. It is a form of storytelling and lets the viewer feel the land and the sounds.

I am now curious about the further research results of the group, to see how this will change and adapt the artwork, but also how it will finally be put together in the exhibition.