Antarctica and its surrounding ocean are dominated by the presence of snow and ice, which, while responsive to local climate patterns and variations also influences global climate systems. About 98% of the Antarctic continent is covered by a sheet of ice averaging 1.6 kilometres thick comprising 90% of the world’s ice and 70% of its fresh water. Icebergs are formed from an accumulation of snow falling on the continental ice sheet over millennia. As the compressed ice sheet flows radially under gravity towards the coast, it spills away from glaciers or ice shelves. After calving, it rapidly begins an evanescent process of erosion that leads to the formation of icebergs with irregular sizes and appearances, eventually decaying into smaller fragments. Sea ice is a different type of ice caused by seawater freezing and consists of assorted forms and densities at various stages of development. The majority of sea ice occurs in a wide band around the continent where diverse conditions induce ice floes of various sizes, ages, thicknesses and concentrations. Wind and currents make this ice highly mobile, while fluctuations in air temperature modifies its morphology leading to a significant amount of shattering and deformation. The sounds voiced by Antarctica’s ice shelves, glaciers, icebergs and sea ice contests one of the great misconceptions about the continent. One based on the perception that it is a place delimited by a rigid and mute set of conditions. Yet concealed within the frozen veil of ice is a startling aggregation of sound to demonstrate how remarkably protean the continent actually is.

Philip Samartzis

Recorded in the Southern Ocean and Eastern Antarctica in 2010 and 2016.

Originally presented in collaboration with Roland Snooks at NGV Triennial Extra in 2018.

The Australian Antarctic Division, The Australia Council for the Arts, The Bogong Centre for Sound Culture, Creative Victoria, The National Gallery of Victoria, and the School of Art at RMIT University

Philip Samartzis Biography
Philip Samartzis is a sound artist, scholar and curator with a specific interest in the social and environmental conditions informing remote wilderness regions and their communities. His art practice is based on deep fieldwork where he deploys complex sound recording technology to capture natural, anthropogenic and geophysical forces. The recordings are used within various exhibition, performance and publication outcomes to demonstrate the transformative effects of sound within a fine art context. He is particularly interested in concepts of perception, immersion and embodiment in order to provide audiences with sophisticated encounters of space and place. Philip is the recipient of two Australian Antarctic Division Arts Fellowships (2009 and 2015), which he used to document the effects of extreme climate and weather events in Eastern Antarctica, Macquarie Island, and on the research vessel Aurora Australis. Philip is an Associate Professor within RMIT School of Art, and the artistic director of the Bogong Centre for Sound Culture.