an art&science field laboratory about converging ecologies by Bioartsociety

Antye Greie-Ripatti, Till Bovermann, Dinah Bird, Anja Erdmann, Kristina Lindström, Vygandas Simbelis, Caspar Ström

As humans we inhabit a hybrid ecology and so are also a part of the biological and technological ends of our world. If this is so, one can also say that it is our responsibility to connect both peripheries in order to develop ethical and respectful forms of co-existence and ideally beneficial interaction.

During the field_notes field laboratory, the (sonic) Wild Code Team investigated notions of coexistence, communication and potentials for interaction in the hybrid ecology surrounding Kilpisjärvi. By immersing ourself into the vast and raw landscape of Lapland around Kilpisjärvi, we researched and tested for possibilities to enable the landscape to speak for itself.

After arriving in Kilpisjärvi on Monday late in the evening, we had a brief get-together, a group of seven foreigners, tired but full of dedication.

15.9.2015 – First day in the field

In the morning we went out to the land, walked the tundra; first chatting as we walked along, then becoming increasingly quiet, taking in the landscape and its sounds. We stopped for a talk, everyone introduced herself with quick words, trying to tell what is necessary for the others to know. It was cold and windy.

We continued our hike towards Kilpisjärvi, listening to the land, more or less in solitude with ourselves, until Antye gathered us with a scream, out into the land. We followed her and were astonished by the echos that came back to us.

We had lunch at the Saanajärvi “päivätupa”, found a gas stove, made tea and talked. A small group of Reindeers came for a visit, we spread out, searching for things to record and capture within our little devices. Some of us started an improvisation, trying to make use of the found objects: Creating audio feedback within rock formations, sampling water streams and wind. A first glimpse of an improvisational piece appeared. It was only after a few hours that one of the field recordists in our group mentioned the intensity she found in being able to mix the artificial sounds with the acoustics and soundscape of the landscape in her recordings, walking around and trying to find her own subjective listening space. Only the recording did not happen yet but an idea for intervention revealed itself. If it was the feedback sounds, the voice improvisation, playing the blade of grass or simply our strange behaviour that again caught the attention of the reindeers, we don’t know for sure. But we made an impression on the landscape.

16.9.2015 – Playing the fence

On Wednesday, we decided to walk along Čáhkáljávri, a small lake on the plateau overlooking Kilpisjärvi. Starting our hike at the road, we continued hearing it for the next 30 minutes, while slowly diving into the beauty of “ruska”, the samiland equivalent to an indian summer with every Green slowly blending into the intense colorings of yellow, red and brown. Our plan for the day was to allow time for small explorations, give people the opportunity to do field recordings. Our goal was what was recommended as the most beautiful area around Saana (the mountain next to Kilpisjärvi). After recording sessions alongside Čáhkáljávri, including a short interlude by playing a boat with a synthesizer and bumping some nature, we were stopped by a reindeer fence, dividing the land into “here” and “there”. Only a bridge over a stream and, a bit further on, a metal structure for motorised reindeer herders allowed everybody but reindeer to cross the fence. We decided to stop and play the fence with the instruments we brought: portable speakers, small synthesisers, live-coding environments, granulators, microphones, audio-transducers. It became a revelation to us.

Some 20 minutes in, members of the second order group joined the concert situation without us noticing. We didn’t even feel the wind and coldness but played, enjoying the moment and the immersion into the land. Time was lost and we became a band: Sonic Wild Code.

This is research.

17.9.2015 – Stone fields and waterfalls

With this in our minds, we went for a tour with Erich Berger to Skibotn/Norway, just some 50km from Kilpisjärvi. With no particular plan, we went to the pebble beach, some recording the waves, some collecting plastiglomerates, some making music.

On the way back we stopped at an amazing waterfall where we again spread out and enjoyed the solitude while being in a group of like-minded people. Somewhere over the course of the last days, a bond of amicable silence arose between us. An agreement without words. Videos where shot, discoveries made. It ended with a shouting concert into the roaring sounds of the waterfall.

Just in between Norway and Finland, Antye guided us to a surreal stone field. More confident with our emergent research practice we decided to play two improvisational pieces there.

18.9.2015 – Talking and Presentation

Friday, we finally talked. Outside, we found a way relate to each other without making too many words but now it felt good to discuss about the experience we had in the field. After some discussion, we settled on a concept for our evening presentation to the other groups: Several location around the station, partly documentation, partly artistic intervention, partly live concert.

  • Kota: live improvisation by the Sonic Wild Code group
  • Maalab: recordings by Dinah, writings by Antye
  • Fysiolab: listen to stones, mushrooms and water
  • Seminar room: concert documentation video screening
  • Electrical sauna: Mushroom bumping
  • Sauna at the shore: ambience concert with a view
  • Archival closet: playback of scream recording

19.9.2015 – Wrapping up

The last day sounds boring in description but was really necessary: interchange of recorded and captured material and sharing experience with the other groups. We had an intense time in Kilpisjärvi, something we all will remember for a long time. Friendships were initiated, future plans emerged. We are grateful for being so privileged to be able to take part in this field laboratory.



  • Feedback with portable speakers and a stereo microphone in the field make for an effective interactive instrument that reacts to even the tiniest movements and changes in the environment.
  • Active recording. Dinah’s approach to recording the electroacoustic pieces while finding her spot in the landscape, moving back and forth between environmental sounds like water, wind and birds.
  • Listen. When you’re ready, make the active turn. Fake it until its real. Group is everything.
  • Discovery: Does the resonating tone of a stone equal the resonating feedback frequency ? [more research needed]
  • The music is what you hear (filtered through the landscape), not what you play

The best moments as seen form the group members

  • Realising that people in the group do not only share a dedication to field recording but also want to make music in the field. Or do active recordings of what is played and the environment it happened in.
  • When the helicopter flew overhead just at the beginning of the reindeer fence crossing concert, we were half expecting the ‘spies’ from the Second Order to jump out with their parachutes to join us. They eventually joined us a little later on foot, armed with hot tea which was much needed. The sound of the river below, fusing with the chopper overhead and the faint sounds of electronic instruments bleeding into the landscape was a wonderful moment.
  • Our 3rd ’music for the wild ’session in the deep stone cavern in a no-mansland behind the border to Finland and Norway. Some emotional group jam.
  • Catch the people with your passion for acoustic environments, sounds, noises and listening. + sharing with them!

Event score {for composing] a wilderness performance

  • take x amount of people to the field,
  • find an instrument or select landscape,
  • bring: acoustic and digital sound making devices sound objects, portable battery powered speakers, cameras, recorders,
  • listen, start to play,
  • listen to the landscape and the non-human,
  • and to each other,
  • don’t stress it, let it happen,
  • it ends when it is dinnertime

Sonic approaches to the land

  • active listening
  • sound localisation (reindeer bells, birds, street, …)
  • live-sampling – environment collaborators
  • improvisation
  • synthesized sounds / acoustic sounds / voice / hydrophony / drone step
  • vocal imitation of found sounds
  • feedback + filter
  • contact microphones
  • looping and layering
  • live coding
  • electromagnetic pick-up / Sniffer
  • electromagnetic feedback loop
  • landscape as score
  • landscape as a (reflective) acoustic space
  • scream score, vocal non verbal interaction with the non-human
  • performative field recording
  • layer(ing) to the natural acoustic environment

(Potential) responses by the landscape and the (non-)human

  • birds flew over
  • reindeer very curious
  • sonic reflections by landscape
  • stones broke
  • scared small animals
  • attraction of black flies
  • reindeer don’t want to be recorded
  • a reindeer herders response to our way to make music: “to be without being but still exist”

Literature / References/ Links

Group description and members

SEPT 2015
an art&science field laboratory about converging ecologies by Bioartsociety