Polar wind inspires Antarctic Arts Fellow

Dr Philip Samartzis
Dr Philip Samartzis, 2015 Antarctic Arts Fellow.
Historic image of expeditioners leaning into a ferocious wind whilst chipping ice to melt for water

Melbourne sound artist Dr Philip Samartzis has been announced as the 2015 Australian Antarctic Arts Fellow.

Dr Samartzis will travel to Casey station in Antarctica in January 2016 where he will spend three weeks capturing the sounds of polar wind. He intends to use novel sound recording technology to construct an immersive listening environment within which his audience can have “an embodied encounter with Antarctica”.

“I was inspired by Frank Hurley’s famous photographs from 1912 ‘The Blizzard’ and ‘Leaning on the Wind’ where wind is depicted as a ferocious and dramatic force of nature,” Dr Samartzis said.

Wind is the most difficult naturally occurring phenomenon to record and its representation within the soundscape ecology of Antarctica is often compromised by the limitations of standard recording technology.

“The technology that I will use has the capacity to capture the flow and flux of polar wind within a dynamic range and frequency spectrum,” he said.

Dr Samartzis’ recordings will form the basis of new artworks and compositions for exhibition, performance, broadcast and publication. He intends to immerse audiences in the Antarctic experience in order to enhance their appreciation for the extreme forces which shape the frozen continent.

The recordings will also contribute to research examining new methods of documenting natural wilderness areas.

Dr Samartzis was previously awarded a Fellowship in 2009, and has since presented his Antarctic-inspired work widely in Australia, Asia, Europe and the United States.

Each year, the Australian Government invites artists, writers and others with a non-science focus to apply for an Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship. The Fellowship is designed to offer a first-hand experience of Antarctica to inform and inspire understanding of the Antarctic environment and the significance of Australia’s activities there.

The Arts Fellowship, formerly known as the Antarctic Humanities program, is in its thirtieth year. Previous Arts Fellows include author Favel Parrett, visual artist John Kelly and children's author Alison Lester.