From Ice to Music: The challenges of translating the sights and sounds of Antarctica into music
In January 2004 I journeyed to Antarctica as an Antarctica New Zealand Honorary Artist Fellow. My proposed study was entitled Sounds of Antarctica and entailed producing a portfolio of original compositions. The attraction of the planet’s last great wilderness for me was to a large degree the challenge of how one translates such a limited visual palette into sound. In this paper I will explore how an environment of sensory deprivation can influence and shape one’s work and how a creative artist can find a productive solution to the issue of transcribing such diverse elements as landscape, history, colour (or absence thereof) and natural phenomena (such as wind) into a satisfying musical and poetic form. I conclude that through the study of this distant, frozen, inhospitable land, my creativity has paradoxically moved into a very fertile stage. It was not, as I first thought, the wide, majestic vistas that later fuelled my compositions but the play of light and the effects of a limited colour palette. Nevertheless, it is perhaps because of the wide horizons that I have been thinking horizontally in a linear fashion rather than vertically. The vastness of the panorama is also the reason for focusing on the small details close at hand.