Auksalaq (Six Quintets and Iceprints)

April 8th, 2010 | Filed under Abstracts

Auksalaq, the Inupiat word for “melting snow/ice”, is a telematic, multimedia work that explores global climate change from a northern geographic and cultural perspective. Using telematic technology, live music, voice, dance, movement, visual arts and commentary, the work creates a counterpoint of media linking great distances. Auksalaq integrates artistic expression, scientific information and social/political commentary to present an interactive, multi-dimensional experience that embodies relevant complex cultural and environmental processes. The piece employs scientific analysis as well as cultural and political issues surrounding global climate change.

This performance for Intermedia Festival 2010 features the premiere of two of the five systems from the opera: Six Quintets and Iceprints.

The Six Quintets for percussion quintet express elemental human relationships with the environment through music. These pieces express the environmental, physical, mental and spiritual complexities of human-nature dialectics. As humans affect and control the natural environment, the changes we create reflect back onto our species’ behavior, psyche and imagination. The Six Quintets set up elemental systems of tension that point to this abstraction: Water (ice), Wood (pitch), Stone (sand), Metal (noise), Air (breath), and Skin (bones). These movements progress from the outward material affects of our behavior (melting ice) to our body and breath as material.

In counterpoint with the Six Quintets, an ecoacoustic drama plays out simultaneously in another, remote space. Iceprints for piano and sub-ice ecoacoustics maps empirical, temporal complexities of transformation underneath the Polar ice cap into a musical system. Iceprints is music written from inside the ice; it does not address the dramatic temporal frame of human behavior but rather reveals empirical patterns of melting occurring over 39 years. Using the ability of music to represent multiply directed time, in Iceprints we can listen simultaneously to the real time movement of the ice, its daily, monthly and annual cycles, and to its macro-temporal form across several decades. The piece does this through a unique ecoacoustic process involving decades of scientific data collated with a special multi-channel sub-ice recording system. Three hydrophones suspended beneath the ice and separated by several kilometers,  triangulate events under the ice. Through the three-channel surround sound playback, the audience is also triangulated within this Polar sub-ice environment.

The accompanying media supports these two systems of change. The human drama of Six Quintets is accompanied by interviews and media documentation about change in the Arctic. Iceprints is accompanied by abstract images of ice and color processing.

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