Switching Heads – Sound mapping the Arctic

Switching Heads – Sound mapping the Arctic is the first in an on going project by artist duo Holly Owen and Kristina Pulejkova. Environmentally un-intrusive sculpture, binaural sound technology and film come together to record the sights, sounds and stories of areas around the globe that are most at risk from the effects of our rapidly changing climate.

Owen and Pulejkova have created a life-size mould of a head that can be stuffed with organic material found in a specific environment. The use of local material means the sculpture can be left in place to melt, crumble or decompose without adding or taking anything away from the area. This organic head holds a pair of binaural microphones that records the environmental and human sounds of the landscape in 360 degrees. Video captures the events in real time.

Through this mixed-media work Switching Heads – sound mapping the Arctic transports the viewer through perspective sound, real-time moving image and tactile organic sculpture to areas worst affected by changes in our global climate. Engaging the senses, the project will draw upon the lived experience, encouraging audiences to act through feelings of empathy.

In spring 2015 Owen and Pulejkova embarked on an art expedition to the island city of Tromsø situated between fjords at the upper most tip of Norway, deep within The Arctic Circle.
They invited local people to share their stories, traditions and experiences of living in the Arctic Circle with a head cast in snow, whilst binaural microphones and film recorded the events. The final film work will be shown guerilla-style in Paris as part of the art and culture festival artCOP21 during the United Nations climate conferences in winter 2015. Through a city expedition they will carry their finished Arctic film and an individual pair of headphones on their backs as they walk through the city. In doing this they will bring the experience out to the public, inviting locals, tourists, climate concerned individuals as well as artists to switch places with the snow head to watch, listen and explore life in The Arctic Circle.