The Matter of the Soul

At Ice Alive, we were delighted to support recent performance work by Kat Austen and team called Matter of the Soul.

The Matter of the Soul | Symphony is a performance work by Kat Austen that aims to engender empathy with a consequence of climate change: process of dispersal and transformation in the Arctic region. The work draws together stories of human migration and melting ice in the Arctic, and changing identity on and offline. During the performance, Austen plays music using samples of water collected in the Arctic during a field trip around Baffin Island in Canada.

The Matter of the Soul | Symphony explores the impact of human movement on the region’s culture and individuals’ identities, and reflects on the environmental changes interwoven with this process.


The raw material and compositions from the project are released online with a call for others to remix the work’s identity as it travels the internet.

The musical compositions for The Matter of the Soul are based around audio field recordings of Arctic waters made using scientific equipment, pH and conductivity meters, that have been hacked to produce sound. The acidity and salinity of Arctic waters vary depending on the melting of ice that increases the amount of fresh liquid water in the Arctic.

By taking sounds from these measurements, captures the way that climate change is affecting this fragile region. Austen weaves the story of the ice with human stories related to climate and cultural change in this region using samples from interviews with visitors to and inhabitants of Baffin Island and Resolute.


We strongly encourage you to visit to explore more of Kat’s work and to listen to the symphony and buy cassettes.