Sastrugi

Diana Chester & Sean Chua | Violin by Bea Harrison-Day | Cinematography by Frederique Olivier | Based on a research collaboration with Dr. Petra Heil at Australia Antarctic Division

Two Performances at Theatre Royal Hobart as part of Mona Foma, 02.23-02.23 2024

This work was supported by a RAWspace residency

This project combines the techniques of sonification, field recording, and musique concrète to craft captivating and immersive soundscapes that narrate the poignant tale of vanishing sea ice in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean. In the face of a record-breaking year for Antarctic sea ice in 2023, this project emerges as a timely and vital testament to the Earth’s ever-changing climate. The work bridges the chasm between scientific knowledge and the everyday audience, granting access to the Antarctic and Southern Ocean, places that remain both integral yet inaccessible for most people. By transforming data and field recordings into auditory experiences, our work aims to engage individuals and help them connect with these regions.

The development of this work began two years ago. To date we have established workflows and tested different approaches for sonification as well as working with expeditioners to collect initial primary source recordings from Davis station, Antarctica. The accompanying visual language for this primarily sound based project has also been developed through the creation of code for animation and visualisation, from data sets inclusive of 1981-2024.

This project not only celebrates the natural wonders of the Antarctic and the Southern Ocean but also underscores the urgency of understanding and addressing the global issue of melting ice. Through art and science, we aim to foster a profound connection between the audience and Antarctica. This work has several aims, the first is to challenge how we listen and pay attention to Earth’s changes by giving Earth an audible voice. A second aim is to work collaboratively to understand what synergies, and discoveries there may be in expressing sea-ice change data through sound and visual means and to better understand the ways that data sonification and visualisation can work with sea-ice data to tell stories about the climate for the public. We want this work to challenge the ways people feel about our Earth and humanity, the way we relate to one another and to our environment, and how we think about that which we cannot see or understand.

Links

Theatre Royal Hobart

Mona Foma Festival 2024

Performance Photos | Theatre Royal Hobart

ARTIST BIOS

Sean Minhui Tashi Chua

Sean Minhui Tashi Chua is a scientist and artist based in Nipaluna / Hobart creating research, tools and artworks that span the fields of earth science, data sonification and machine learning. Chua has implemented machine learning techniques for snow cover mapping in the Himalaya, taught a ‘Hearing Data’ workshop for Melbourne sound school and exhibited audio-visual works on drought affected landscapes at Adspace gallery. DJing as ‘Big Data’ his performances often serve as an outlet to recontextualise his experiences of data and earth science in a playful yet challenging style.

Diana Chester

Diana Chester is an artist and sound studies scholar whose work produces critically influential studies, methods, and outputs that use sound to traverse disciplinary boundaries using feminist, de-colonial, and post-anthropocentric approaches to thinking and making. Recent exhibitions include, “Listening to Earth” Chau Chak Wing Museum, Sydney (2024), “Celestial Stories” Smithsonian, National Mall, USA (2023), “Light Echoes” Sydney Observatory, Australia (2023) , “ZAAG” Funkhaus, Mongolia (2023), “Sub_Merge” Atlantic Center for the Arts, USA (2023), “Living Landscapes Living Memories” Smithsonian, USA (2022). Chester is Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication at the University of Sydney, and vice president of the World Listening Project.