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8 November 2011

Inspired by Spitsbergen

Daniel Blinkhorn recording on a small iceberg Image: Daniel Blinkhorn recording on a small iceberg  

The polar region of Spitsbergen (also known as Svalbard) is unparalleled in its geologic and environmental rarity. Positioned above Norway, the archipelago is a truly remarkable part of the world that continues to inspire awe and fascination, and is often at the heart of our collective consciousness for its ecological and climatic sensitivity.

As part of an interdisciplinary arts residency, I had the good fortune to travel throughout the region on a traditionally rigged tall ship (known as a barquentine) for a period of just under three weeks. Whilst onboard I discussed and collaborated on a number of projects with fellow artist participants from around the world. The backgrounds of the individuals were incredibly diverse, ranging from sculptor and playwrights, through to authors, new media technologists, inventors, film makers and beyond.

A typical day consisted of landfall twice (morning and afternoon) - we pursued artistic activities and specialist projects were undertaken in truly remarkable locations throughout the archipelago. I had the chance to capture many field recordings of the region, providing some very inspiring materials for use in upcoming music and interdisciplinary pieces I'm composing. I also had the opportunity to begin putting together a radio feature for the ABC Radio National's 360 program.

My trip to the region was made possible through the extremely generous assistance of the Churchill Trust, through which I am a 2011 fellow, as well as through the Ian Potter Cultural Trust, who have also been very generous in assisting me to undertake the program.

As part of my Churchill Fellowship I'm looking into developing strategies and techniques for composing with environmental sound in fixed-media and live performance. To this end, I've now left the polar region and am visiting specialist composers within the field at institutions in the US and Canada. I'm particularly excited about the possibilities that exist when drawing from the environment to inform the compositional process, and hope to develop a range of techniques and resources that can be shared with interested individuals well into the future.

AMC resources

Daniel Blinkhorn - AMC profile


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