Polar Force

Australian field recordist Philip Samartzis and percussionist Eugene Ughetti have released Polar Force, a new collaborative body of work that draws on Samartzis’ time at Casey Station, one of Australia’s primary research outposts on the Antarctic continent.

Polar Force merges environmental acoustics and extended approaches to percussion, with much of the sound created through custom made percussion devices utilising ice, water and wind.

When matched against the field recordings, they create a blurry line between the natural and the performed, Samartzis and Ughetti prompting us to listen deeply into their emergent sound world.

After being inspired by the epic percussive soundscapes he encountered on his first Australian Antarctic Division residency at Davis Station, Samartzis asked Eugene Ughetti if he could help him translate recordings from a second trip into a new performance work.

“Intrigued, I accepted the challenge provided I could create a live performance utilising the same recorded materials of ice, air and water. We undertook an ambitious collaboration with sound, instrument, lighting and industrial designers, a dramaturg and percussionist,” said Ughetti.

“For Polar Force we built an environment, a white inflatable structure reminiscent of a remote re-search station on the ice. Emanating from outside the space come the complex and foreboding sounds of the natural environment, inside, a live event akin to scientific research in sound occurs.”

Ughetti said that this hour-long performance installation work gives rise to a hyper-realistic sensing of Antarctica, bursting with natural beauty, power and the audible evidence of human impact.

Watch a performance

In this video, Polar Force is performed by Matthias Schack-Arnott and Eugene Ughetti.

Polar Force was released 15 October 2021 and can be accessed here.

Unclear Cloud, 2021

As part of the exhibition Sampling the Future at the National Gallery of Victoria, Unclear Cloud, 2021 is a newly commissioned work of speculative architecture by Roland Snooks, Associate Professor at RMIT University with fellow RMIT academic and sound artist Philip Samartzis.

Using advance computation, 3D-printing and robot fabrication, Unclear Cloud attempts to realise an architectural representation of the ‘virtual’ cloud in order to draw attention to the environmental impact of cloud computing and its massive energy requirements.

The work is embedded with a sound work by Samartzis, which comprises recordings of climatic research activity, weather and melting glaciers in the Bernese Alps. The sound work also asks audiences to consider the accelerating data-carbon footprint of architecture and design.

Image courtesy of Philip Samartzis. For more information about the Polar Force art science collaboration visit Speak Percussion