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SAMKUL-Samfunnsutviklingens kulturell

Arctic Auditories – Hydrospheres in the High North

Alternative title: Arktiske lydfornemmelser i den nordlige hydrosfæren

Awarded: NOK 8.1 mill.

Arctic Auditories – Hydrospheres in the High North (AA) is an interdisciplinary project based in the Humanities, which seeks to develop strategies for understanding environmental change through sound. The project focuses on water environments and draws on feminist and other knowledge systems to raise awareness to watery soundscapes in the Nordic region. The ultimate aim of the project is to deliver innovative, empowering and democratic listening strategies to help individuals and societies cultivate radical ideas about how different forms of engagement can contribute to sustainability. In the preliminary stage, we will identify Arctic waters for the project, and investigate and represent them through techniques of sound mapping. Using interviews and participant observation, we will analyze the impact of communal, mindful, artistic, and corporeal activities. The research team will subsequently collaborate with five local community groups in Northern Norway/Sápmi to perform soundwalks and sound sittings in their surroundings and to record the soundscapes. On this basis, we will develop soundwalks and -sittings, create podcasts, conduct workshops, and co-curate a museum exhibition to learn about sounds and the valences attached to them. The concepts of emplacement, connectivity and imaginative narratives for positive futures form the project’s theoretical foundations. Applying these theories to our empirical data, we consider how listening processes can build community knowledge to complexify and advance existing scientific maps. Such, the extended understanding of emplacement will contribute to sustainable futures.

The accelerating climate crisis can cause fear of the future, feelings of powerlessness and “existential dread”. In public media, we see shrinking glaciers and confused polar bears on a regular basis. This symbolic visual and narrative repertoire is powerful, but it seems detached, intransigent and mostly negative. The relation between narrative, collective emotion and sustainability is underestimated. So is, as we propose, the role of the auditory. This project engages scholarship and methods from sound arts, feminist theory, human geography and applied ethnomusicology to scrutinize how awareness can enhance our understanding of climate systems. Focusing on water environments, the ultimate aim of the project is to deliver innovative inter-disciplinary, empowering and democratic listening strategies to help individuals and society more broadly, cultivate radical imaginations of futures beyond environmental anxiety. The concepts of emplacement, connectivity and imaginative narratives for positive futures form the project’s theoretical foundations. In a preliminary stage we will identify Arctic waters, investigate and represent them through techniques of sound mapping. Utilizing qualitative fieldwork approaches, such as interview and participant observation, we will analyze the impact of the communal, mindful, artistic, and corporeal activities. The research team will subsequently collaborate with five local community groups in Northern Norway/Sápmi to perform soundwalks and sound sittings in their surroundings and to record the soundscapes. On this basis, we will develop soundwalks, create podcasts, conduct workshops, and co-curate a museum exhibition to learn about sounds, about the valences attached to them, about the ways that listening processes can build community knowledges that might provide other layers to the cartography of the High North, that complicate and advance the existing scientific maps and understand emplacement as a means of sustainable futures.

Funding scheme:

SAMKUL-Samfunnsutviklingens kulturell