Acoustic Oceans / Acoustic Ice

27 October 13.00-17.30
Folkets Bio / UmArts / Vita Kuben
Underwater sensor deployment (film still), Listening to Ice, dir. Schuppli, 2023, colour with stereo sound, 70:37 mins.

An UmArts and Vita Kuben Research Symposium on acoustic oceans and ice, with artists Åsa Stjerna and Susan Schuppli

This symposium will explore two different approaches to artistic research into our sonic environment and changing climate with artists Susan Schuppli (UK/Canada) and Åsa Stjerna (Sweden). The symposium includes a screening of Susan Schuppli’s new film Listening to Ice (2023) in conjunction with Åsa Stjerna’s exhibition at Vita Kuben, and a discussion with the artists.

UmArts works in partnership with arts organisations in Umeå to support research-based practice in Art, Architecture, Design, Sloyd and Music to develop new opportunities for indepth discussions about the relationship between making and thinking, theory and practice. We are delighted to announce our first collaboration with Vita Kuben, the ‘White Cube’ contemporary art space at the Norrlandsoperan curated by Helena Wikström.


13.00 – 14.35 Folkets Bio Umeå.

Welcome from Ele Carpenter, Director of UmArts and Helena Wikström, Curator of Vita Kuben.

Film Screening: Listening to Ice, Susan Schuppli, 2023 (1 hour 10 mins). Introduced by the film maker, artist Susan Schuppli. 

14.45-15.00 Walk along the river to the UmArts Research Studio on the Arts Campus.

15.00 – 15.15 Fika at UmArts. 

15.15-15.45 Presentation by Åsa Stjerna.

15.45-16.15  Panel discussion chaired by Keith Larson, Director of the Arctic Research Centre, and Project Coordinator for the Climate Impacts Research Centre (CIRC).

16.15 Walk to Vita Kuben, Norrlandsoperan.

16.30-17.30 Åsa Stjerna’s exhibition at Vita Kuben, followed by drinks at the Elektra bar.


Susan Schuppli is an artist and researcher based in the UK, whose work examines material evidence from war and conflict to environmental disasters and climate change. Susan Schuppli’s research into ice justice includes the film Listening to Ice which documents the activities of a small team of researchers from India and the UK who made their way to Drang Drung Glacier in the Zanskar Range of the northeastern Himalayas in 2021 to study the impacts of climate change. Through fieldwork to measure the mass balance changes of the glacier, sonic instrumentation to listen to the internal dynamics of melting ice, and situated “listening” workshops with local villagers, they set out to monitor and record the materials transformations of this receding glacier as well as engage with affected communities.  

Susan Schuppli is Director of the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths as well as affiliate artist-researcher and Board Chair of Forensic Architecture. author of ‘Material Witness: Media, Forensics, Evidence, 2020, MIT; she is currently working on a new film and Cold Logistic and Colonial Trade.

Åsa Helena Stjerna is a Swedish installation artist, using sound and listening as her artistic modes of exploration. Through her site-specific installations, she explores sound’s potential, making the embedded conditions and underlying narratives connected to a place perceivable. Several of her projects involve scientific collaboration, exploring how collaboration between science and art can create new artistic formats of listening that deepen our relationship with the world around us.

During the Autumn, Åsa Stjerna will present two artworks at Vita Kuben in the Norrlandsoperan in Umeå: Soundings (8.10 – 27.10) and Sállajiegŋa (10.11 – 15.12). “Soundings” directly translated to Swedish “ljudanden” is the scientific term for measuring the ocean depth. This is done using sonar technology where reflected sound signals create visual maps of the ocean’s unknown seabeds, so-called bathymetric maps. Soundings is based on bathymetric data from a scientific expedition to the Ryder Glacier in northern Greenland, in 2019.  Sterna’s second artwork Sállajiegŋa is based on data from an excursion led by glaciologist Nina Kirchner in 2019. In the work, scientific data from hydrophones and time-lapse images used to measure glacial calving at the Sállajiegŋa glacier in northern Scandinavia have been merged into an arctic synchronized moment. 

Stjerna is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at University of Gothenburg, Sweden (Projet title: Sonic Visions of the Arctic. Duration: 2021-2023. Funded by: The Swedish Research Council). As part of this project, she is visiting researcher at the research group Worldling Northen Art:WONA, Arctic University of Tromsø, Norway.