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Adfreeze Project / Cheryl Leonard + Oona Stern

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Adfreeze Project / Cheryl Leonard + Oona Stern
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Leonard and Stern continue their development of a series of installation and interactive works combining sound and form to describe the Spitsbergen region of the Arctic.

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adfreeze - the process by which two objects are bonded together by ice formed between them

    In October 2011, composer Cheryl Leonard and visual artist Oona Stern participated in The Arctic Circle 2011 expeditionary residency program. This interdisciplinary expedition tours the high Arctic of the Svalbard archipelago aboard a specially outfitted sailing vessel. The program provides the opportunity for artists, scientists, and innovators to pursue their own projects, while exploring collaborations with the expedition's fellow participants. Leonard and Stern began their work on Adfreeze Project during the residency. This was Leonard and Stern's first major collaboration after meeting in Antarctica, where they were both grantees of the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. Their collaboration continues on Adfreeze Project, as well as additional endeavors.

Adfreeze Project is a journal of a remote, unique environment, where experience of the Spitsbergen region is captured and translated through a sound and visual artist team. Taking a multi-disciplinary approach, Leonard and Stern are collaborating on projects that respond to the schooner's locale - natural conditions, and the physical and cultural histories of land and sea.

The artists are developing a unique piece based on each day's location. At a given site a material or feature is selected as a focus for visual and aural interactions. Of special interest are natural patterns, evidence of changes in ecological systems, and other environmental events. The artists consider macro and micro geological patterns such as ice wedges, cryoturbation, ancient shorelines, pingos, and glacial markings on bedrock; animal tracks and trails; vegetative patterns; glaciers, sea ice, and snow drifts. On land, local materials such as stones, sand, driftwood, shells, ice, water, bones and vegetation might be manipulated to draw attention to an aspect of the site. These materials are also be played as musical instruments in compositions and improvisations that translate the site's physical forms into musical gestures. On the ship elements such as sea spray, waves, wind and snow, as well as sounds from the ship herself, are shaped and recorded. Drawings, rubbings and other mark-making processes create visual records, echoing the visual data collection of early explorers. Site characteristics and interventions are documented with video and photography. At each location, activities leave no lasting impact on the site.

Post-residency, Leonard and Stern are producing a series of multi-media portraits of the Arctic, designed for exhibition in galleries, educational institutions and online venues. Crafted sound works, documentary and manipulated videos, interactive sculptures and musical instruments, and drawings will be combined with the first-hand flavor of objects and materials from the expedition. Presentations will bridge the gap between a remote place and the individual, but will also raise this issue: any presentation of place is a virtual representation, and is in itself a fiction. The artists will explore a range of artistic formats to understand their proximity to both the real site, and their interactions with it.

Monacobreen was the first installation developed from Adfreeze research. The piece was installed at the Kurant Gallery in Tromsø, Norway, October 20-22, 2011 as part of the Insomnia Future Music and Techno Festival. Additional pieces include Ice Notes, an on-line journal, published by At Length magazine, as well as several performance-based musical scores.

Combining scientific practices (research) with artistic ones (presentation), the goal of Adfreeze Project is to relate the characteristics of the Arctic: its temporal attributes, unique physicality, and spiritual presence. Adfreeze is part of a new generation of earthworks which seek not only to (re)present nature, but to facilitate the growing desire of people all over to live with nature rather than try to conquer it.