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.

Announcing the Ice Alive Grantees!

It is our great pleasure to finally announce the recipients of the first ever Ice Alive grants. From a very strong field of applications we decided to fund these three projects because we think they will deliver lasting impact and bring new knowledge of our changing cryosphere to diverse new audiences. We’ll be providing updates about each project on this blog.


1. Pixel movers and makers

Pixel Movers and Makers is a unique collaboration between author/illustrator Marlo Garnsworthy and software engineer Kevin Pluck. Their animated videos, infographics and artwork are excellent examples of fresh and truly innovative Polar sci-comm. We’re delighted to be able to support their new series of animations and the related outreach. Like Ice Alive, Pixel Movers and Makers survives on “elbow grease and midnight oil” and a commitment to communicating our changing cryosphere to a global audience - we’re delighted that our missions have aligned on this project!

2. Kat Austen, “The matter of the soul”

“The Matter of the Soul” is a symphony performance that will communicate the transformations that occur when ice melts and flows to the sea. Ice Alive funding will allow Kat to enrich the performance by bringing on board two new musicians specifically to enhance the emotional engagement by improvising at the premiere. This inventive Polar science communication project draws upon sounds and rhythms drawn from real measurements from Polar science projects recorded from hacked pH and electrical conductivity meters to create moving soundscapes. We can’t wait to hear it! You can find more information and buy tickets to the event here.

3. Fabian Wadsworth, “Ice Songs”

Fabian’s project will create a mentorship program between Polar scientists and poets worldwide and host an international poetry competition. The goal of the mentorship is that the scientist and the poet mutually benefit from exposure to one another’s work and thought processes. Fabian has some experience in the icy parts of our planet, having been poet-in-residence in Northern Iceland in 2014. In Fabian’s own words, “I’ve realised how advantageous this conversation between science and art can be, yielding unique insights on both sides”.