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Sounds of an Antarctic existence

7 August 2007

“Mostly the valley seems silent, with only a background hiss of pink noise to accompany the intrusive sounds of my body, my footsteps. No bird or animal noises, only occasional ice snaps and explosive retorts from the splintering glacial-face and the lakes of frozen seepage from the melt.”

Auckland artist Phil Dadson wrote these words in his diary when camped in the Dry Valleys for a week as part of his 2003 Artist Fellowship in Antarctica recording the visual and audio elements of the landscape.

Part of his resulting Polar Projects series, Aerial Farm, opens at the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu this Friday, 10 August.

The Polar Projects is a series of sound and video installations that capture through sound and imagery a sense of what it is like to exist in the Antarctic, with Aerial Farm becoming an image of communications apparatus, through which the wind blows. The multiple wires create a mesmerising, almost meditative sonic sound.

Gallery director Jenny Harper says the installations portray the harshness of the environment juxtaposed with the efforts to which human beings will go to keep in touch.

“Dadson is a renowned sound and intermedia artist. Through these installations he challenges our perceptions of the sonic properties and visual polarities of this pristine but inhospitable landscape.

“There is a rhythmic quality to Aerial Farm produced by the resonance of the wind playing with the wires of the aerial, the image fading in and out during a snow storm.”

Ms Harper says Dadson is also the founder of the innovative rhythm and performance group, From Scratch, which has performed throughout New Zealand and internationally since the 1970s.

Aerial Farm shows at the Christchurch Art Gallery from 10 August to 14 October 2007.

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