Salajiegna | 2023

Audiovisual Installation

Sálajiegŋa | Audiovisual installation

Synchronized hydrophone recordings and timelaps images, wooden reconstruction of Swedish geologist Axel Hambergs historical research station  “Tjågnorishyddan”,
loudspeakers, speaker cables, film, 
6 min loop.

Clouds pass by, a sudden mist, the darkness of the night makes it impossible for the camera to register calving events, but below the water’s surface, the glacier’s small changes are heard in detail.

Sálajiegŋa is Lule Sámi,  meaning “cracked ice”, and the name of one of Sweden’s largest glaciers. Below the water’s surface on the edge of Sálajiegŋa, researchers explore the increasing pace of melting.  Sálajiegŋa is based on research on calving at the glacier, where data from underwater microphones and time-lapse images have been combined into a synchronized Arctic moment.

Sálajiegŋa is based on data from an expedition led by glaciologist Nina Kirchner in 2020. The work uses data from automated technologies placed near the glacier to record changes over time: time-lapse images, automatically capturing an image every fifth second, around the clock. Hydrophones, or underwater microphones, recording sound underwater around the clock. Each image and sound recording is time-stamped, meaning it is possible to determine the exact time when the image and sound were recorded. By synchronizing them, specific moments can be studied, where visual and acoustic technologies complement each other in the research on glacier changes.

In the installation synchronized material from Nina Kirchner’s 2020 expedition is combined  with a reconstructed framework at a scale of 2:1 from geologist Axel Hamberg’s Arctic historical research station “Tjågnorishyddan” in Sarek from the early 1900s.  If the original purpose of the research station was to provide a place and shelter for conducting Arctic research, in the exhibition, it serves as a room and resonance chamber for the glacier Sálajiegŋa.  In the exhibition, the art in this way allows different technological approaches and historical layers to stand side by side and be connected. In the installation, six-minute audio recordings have been synchronized with six-minute time-lapse images taken at 14:57 CET on August 19, 2020. While the audio recording changes seamlessly over time, and every microscopic change in the glacier can be heard crystal clear, the glacier is obscured by the changing weather as clouds pass by. In this way, the visual and the sonic are juxtaposed, revealing the potential of the sonic.

Nina Kirchner: expedition leader, Sálajiegŋa 2020, glaciologist at the Department of Geological Sciences, Stockholm University, Sweden.
Felicity Holmes: time-lapse images, postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Geological Sciences, Stockholm University, Sweden.

Sálajiegŋa is  part of the artistic research project Sonic Visions of the Arctic made possible with support from the Swedish Research Council and the Faculty of Arts, University of Gothenburg. For several years, Åsa Stjerna has followed natural science researchers’ use of acoustic technologies – technologies that utilize sound in various ways – in their research on the fragile Arctic environment. Over time, she has become as interested in examining the limitations of these technologies and the gaps that arise between what the technologies are capable of measuring and the final image the researchers create from this. How does research relate to these gaps? What do these gaps tell us? What artistic potential lies within these gaps?

Overview from exhibition in Vita Kuben, The Norrland opera, 2023.

Images from Ájtee museum including historical maps of the contruction of  geologist Axel Hamberg’s Arctic historical research station “Tjågnorishyddan” in Sarek, Sweden.

Detail from exhibition, Vita kuben, The Norrland opera, 2023.

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