Antarctic Soundscape


Antarctica was born as a negative, starting from its very name. Antarktikos merely means "opposite to the Arctic" in Greek, and today the continent is still opposing the 21st century frenzy possessing the rest of the world by featuring the only stripe of land nobody on Earth is claiming. If we are yin, Antarctica is yang. If we're full, Antarctica is empty.

For being just a mass of ever-transforming ice and condensation, the South Pole has always been rather interesting to explorers and artists, who always went there to map its landscapes, both geographical and emotional.

Though maps are symbolic representations, and say what they need to say by cutting things out, thus huge gaps and ambiguities that artists can slip and play with as only artists can. Lately Antarctica's negativeness has been picked up by sound artists. Back in 1949, British composer Ralph Vaughn Williams created Sinfonia Antarctica, a metaphorical portrait of the continent, and today eclectic Dj Spooky - that subliminal kid - has come up with a crazy sound-oriented multimedia project titled Terra Nova, The Antarctica Suite.

The Antarctica Suite is a 70-minute long performance, a sound map strictly featuring only Antarctica sounds, recorded by Dj Spooky himself on site. To back up the audio, the artist does also screen images from the places he visited. Although his piece has a much more technological approach to the continent's atmosphere than Vaughn Williams', the two works pair in terms of striking an important nerve: Antarctica's negativeness.
Sound is negative too, it's a dense void, an integration to our experience, an invisible depth shaking beings with their own strength. A soundscape traces the perfect depiction of a still life's most distinctively platonic potential. The crackling noises of ever-rearranging ice, the quiet whistle of blowing wind, the squeak of a penguin - all along with burning-white images of snowy landscapes - are probably not enough to make you experience Antarctica, but they're maybe closer to make you feel it.

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