Case Study – Live Music | ghosting Glacier

About

ABOUT THE PROJECT

Through her work in the outdoors, artistic director Rebekka Sæter has visited several glaciers around the world and was deeply moved and troubled by the impact climate change has had and is still having on these unique places and landscapes. 

In August 2019, she attended an outdoor education symposium at Finse in Norway. On a fieldtrip to the glacier Hardangerjøkulen, she had the idea to create a short film and musical score; a collaborative art project where the relationship between humans and glacier would intertwine, where the artists would attempt to tell untold stories of the glacier and where the voices of the-more-than-human world would be heard. 

ghosting Glacier is the manifestation of her creative vision: the audio recording of the glacier, the environment it occupies and their interaction with it. In this situation, “ghosting” means creating, composing, recording, rewriting and communicating. It is a collaborative and interdisciplinary art project about the glacier. 

The creative project investigates the human-nature relationship in a time of climate change, resulting in a short film and original music score all composed, written, created and performed at, on and next to the glacier itself. 

Mountain view from glacier.

Photography by Rebekka Saeter

The project employs an artistic approach to investigate how we continuously affect and are affected by our interaction with a place. By entangling and blending the boundaries between glacier and human, Sæter investigates and explores the continual influence caused by the presence of nature and people in a coalition of human and nonhuman wills. Instead of considering objects and subjects, we perceive surfaces, substances, waves, atmospheres and the interfaces between these. 

The team setting up the Bose S1 and Microphone on the glacier.

Photography by Ole Martin Holmen

Glaciers are dynamic locations, melting, moving and sliding, and changing steadily all the time. A spot you found two days ago may no longer be available to you today. To capture the different aspects of nature’s expressions, you are forced to be flexible and manage expectations, to be fully present to what is taking place there in the moment. 

The weather can be unpredictable and change quickly, affecting the qualities of the surrounding light, which in turn impacts what the glacier will look like or sound like — this is both challenging and very exciting. It requires people to prepare for changes at a moment’s notice and be flexible in any artistic exploration. 

This kind of flexibility required an audio system that was robust, portable and could deliver the audio quality needed to capture the spirit of the environment and what Sæter and collaborators were creating.

The Bose Professional Solution

The ghosting Glacier team, consisting of photographers Syversen and Holmen, musicians Muraglia and Edwards and guide Laumann, knew they needed a small, powerful PA system and initially assumed they would need to include a generator, as well. They quickly realized that it would have been too heavy, too noisy and counterintuitive to the spirit of being environmentally friendly. The perfect answer was the Bose S1 Pro multi-position PA system. The S1 delivers high-output audio in a small, lightweight, ultra-portable footprint that also provides a dual power option: plug-in power or a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Ultimately, the S1 is designed to be transported effortlessly wherever a loudspeaker is needed.

It takes one hour of walking to reach the foot of the glacier Nigardsbreen, which is part of the larger Jostedalsbreen glacier. Another hour’s walk on the glacier, itself, is where the first ice cave is located. With that amount of walking, the S1’s portability and small footprint was a significant benefit. 

The team didn’t really know what to expect, so it needed something that would be reliable in all circumstances — whether mounting it to the side of the glacier or lowering it into a crevasse. Since no one had ever transported a loudspeaker system to the glacier before and the conditions change continuously, no one was sure what to expect.

Lúa Kalá sitting with Bose S1 Pro

Photography by Ole Martin Holmen

One of the sites visited on another part of the glacier included walking up one of the steepest paths in Norway, so transporting equipment required them to devise solutions on-the-go at different locations. The team spent time being around the glacier without any preconceived ideas other than engaging with the place, recording sounds, listening, improvising choreographic material and capturing a variety of footage. 

Lúa Kalá walking away with Bose S1 Pro

Photography by Linnea Syversen

On the second trip, with the loudspeakers rigged into different locations within an ice cave, they played a variety of audio tracks while using both microphones and cameras. One track was the recording of a poem written by Michael De-Dannan Datura that was then replayed and recorded, capturing the behavior of the sound as it interacted within the space.

The ability to realize a complex, creative vision like ghosting Glacier is an accomplishment enjoyed by Sæter and team.

Leon Muraglia, who served as the music and sound production manager, summarizes why the S1 enabled the team to bring a vision to life. “We needed a system that would be self-powered, stereo, Bluetooth-enabled and with cable line in, plus be loud and tough enough to withstand all eventualities and be a professional-quality device that was also as light as possible. The Bose S1 Pro system was all that.”

“The S1 created a pronounced vibration that enhanced the physical ‘contact’ between the glacier and me. I felt that the sound built a bridge between my body and the ice, providing me a platform to engage with the glacier and the environment in a very intimate and exceptional way.”

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