The Matter of the Soul

  • Date: Tuesday 23 October 2018
  • Time: 19.45 - 22.15
  • Venue: Howard Assembly Room, 46 New Briggate Leeds LS1 6NU

Kat Austen, environmental artist and Cultural Fellow in the Arts and Sciences at the University of Leeds, has created a new installation that puts a sound to the process of measuring pH and conductivity.

Her sound, video and sculptural artwork The Matter of the Soul is coming to Leeds for a free performance at Howard Assembly Room on 23 October, the first time all elements of the piece can be experienced together.

To create the artwork, Kat hacked the electronics of the scientific equipment to create musical instruments that explore how melting of Arctic ice changes ocean chemistry. Still measuring pH and conductivity, the machines now also produce sounds of water recorded on and around Baffin Island in the Canadian High Arctic.

Kat has used the recordings she made in the Arctic to compose concentration | The Matter of the Soul, a song of the changing acidity and salinity of waters around Baffin Island.  Incorporating snippets from interviews with visitors to and inhabitants of the region, Kat has also highlighted the role of sociopolitics and culture in the physical changes in the Arctic. In so doing, Kat weaves together a story of the human and physical effects of climate change, in a visually and sonically moving installation that engenders empathy for this rapidly changing region.

As well as the symphony performance of concentration | The Matter of the Soul accompanied by piano and trumpet, the piece will also include sculptural forms that create an abstract visual motif of dispersal, whether relating people, water, or even to identity.

The piece presents an excellent example of how Arts/Science practice can bring new perspectives and engage audiences emotionally with climate change.

Kat was appointed as Cultural Fellow in the Arts and Sciences by the University’s’ Cultural Institute in December 2017, and has been working with students and researcher across the institution and particularly with members of the Priestley International Centre for Climate to develop the piece.

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Photo: Nekane Ozamiz