Polar Force

23.08—12.09.2019
Image–Bryony Jackson

Polar Force is an immersive live performance by Speak Percussion combining custom built ice and wind instruments with Antarctic field recordings, set within a chilled inflatable performance space. This visceral and multi-sensorial work immerses audiences within an overwhelming sound world and performance environment. Newly designed ice-instruments are used to produce unique acoustic results, distorting as they melt and fracture to render ice into audible phenomena. High fidelity field recordings made in the Australian Antarctic Territory of katabatic winds and extreme weather events form the musical and structural foundation of the work. Philip Samartzis drew upon hundreds of hours of recordings he made during his two Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowships to underpin the work. Some of the recordings were made using an array of digital recorders placed throughout Casey Station during a 100 knot blizzard. Sounds of sea ice, icebergs and glaciers also feature in the performance. The field recordings are used to form a series of multichannel environments to provide audiences with vivid and tactile experiences of the natural, anthropogenic and geophysical forces shaping the frozen continent. Polar Force references climate change and global geopolitical tension including the exploration and exploitation of frontier territories.


Polar Force is the recipient of an Honorary Mention for the Digital Musics and Sound Art Category in the 2019 edition of the Prix Ars Electronica.


Image–Bryony Jackson

Polar Force is supported by the Australian Antarctic Division, Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria, City of Melbourne, Benson Family Foundation, and the School of Art at RMIT University