On view April 2 - Oct. 3, 2021
The Arctic has its own distinct rhythms. The sounds of natural forces, animals, and humans come together to create their own kind of music — soundscapes that murmur and boom, throb and hum, crack and cry, rustle and sing. Listening closely to the sounds and silences of the North opens up an intimate and resonant understanding of place.
A soundscape is the collection of sounds heard in a specific place. With artists and museum collection objects as sonic guides, this exhibition inspired by Northern soundscapes is presented on site at the Anchorage Museum and in an abridged form within this online space. It features music, sound art, and field recordings from the region. The sound art takes inspiration from the environments of the Circumpolar North and features work from artists and musicians of Alaska and other parts of the US, as well as Russia, Canada, and Scandinavia.
Included in this exhibition is the work of 10 sound artists and musicians from around the Circumpolar North who received a one-minute sound clip from one of five sites throughout the state, including Anchorage, Nenana, Nuiqsut, Soldotna, and Sitka, where the Anchorage Museum continuously records sound data as a part of a soundscape ecology research project.
Each soundscape recording tells a short, sonic story of a place on a specific day, time, and season. The excerpts were recorded daily at 9 a.m. January through May 2019. Each artist took a distinct approach to responding to the sound clip provided. Some incorporated an excerpt; others drew inspiration from specific sounds and rhythms for their new compositions. These sound pieces are derived from sound data gathered from across Alaska.
The central experience of Listen Up: Northern Soundscapes in the museum space is delivered through sound “cubes” broadcasting these soundscapes along with the new works of sound art created by artists in response to them. Online visitors may experience the soundscapes and artists' works by clicking on the images below, which contain audio files.
The exhibition highlights Anchorage Museum collection objects along with recordings of their sounds and presents sound art throughout the museum building and grounds from a number of artists. Participating artists live in or are connected to Alaska and other parts of the US, Russia, Canada, and Scandinavia, and range from hip-hop beat makers to throat singers to composers. They include: Marja Ahti, Leah Beeferman, Aqqalu Berthelsen, Davyd Betchkal, Matthew Burtner, Foresteppe, Nicholas Galanin, Shawn Greenlee, Merritt Johnson, John Luther Adams, Jeneen Frei Njootli, Pamyua, Silla and Rise, Alex Somers, and Jana Winderen. These artists' recordings will also be available in an upcoming limited-edition release by the museum’s Unbound Records.
Header image credit: Finnbogi Peturss