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Detail of the video projection

Top view of the concert hall

Side view of the concert hall

Graph: relative temperature relative to age

Graph: dust particles relative to age

Graph: nssCa flux; Fe flux; ssNa flux; nssSO4 flux relative to age

Graph: Na; Ca; SO4 relative to age

Graph: grain size relative to age

Graph: ECM relative to age


The multimedia project "Antarktika" reflects the climatic history of the southernmost continent during the last eight glacial cycles.

"Antarktika" is a translation into music of scientifically measured data covering 742,000 years of the earth's climatic history. The significance of ice cores in scientific research is due to the fact that they provide direct and highly detailed records of atmospheric parameters throughout the history of our planet's climate. Thereby the data become a means for making prognosis of the future of human live on earth. The information extracted from an ice core sampled by EPICA (European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica) in a depths of 3,250m are analysed in this project and mathematically transferred into a conventional musical score for string quartet. The long time span of 742,000 years, here condensed into a 40 minute music piece, is contrasted and overlaid by a wide-screen projection (12m by 3m) edited from video footage of the AWI archive (Alfred-Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven) and by evaluation diagrams of the climatic data.

The sonic space produced by the strings and extended by the live-electronics creates an acoustic dimension linking it to the wide spaces of Antarctica.

Suspended at the centre of the concert hall (see sketches), the wide-screen projection consists of three videos next to each other showing expanses of ice and snow combined with data-generated textures.

A particular attention was paid on the use of scientific data as a criterion for structuring a system of relations preserved all along the composition. The development of the music becomes in this way a vehicle for the comprehension of the climate history.

"Antarktika" performs the complexity of our blue planet's climate history with the counterpoint of a story composed of images, which, showing the abstract forms of the ice from different perspectives, brings us back again to the source of the data.


The score of the string quartet is linked with the time line of the deep ice core data in the following way:

First violin:
Its entry and pitch follow the values of calcium (Ca / predominantly of marine origin) in the ice core.
The dynamics are related to the values of sulphate (SO4) and the note duration to the traces of iron (Fe flux / of continental terrestrial origin).
Second violin:
Entry / pitch > non-sea-salt calcium (nss Ca flux / continental terrestrial source)
Dynamics > iron (Fe flux)
Note duration > sulphate (SO4)
Entry / pitch > terrestrial dust (dust)
Dynamics > sodium (Na)
Note duration > sea-salt sodium (ss Na flux / (represents sea-salt and thus ice extension)
Entry / pitch > correspond to the temperature in Antarctica (delta deuterium)
Dynamics > sea-salt sodium (ss Na flux)
Note duration > terrestrial dust (dust)

Subdivided into six ranges (from the maximum down to zero), the articulation of the strings in the score reflects the value of the grain size of the occluded gases:

top sixth >legato
second sixth >sforzato
third sixth >first note half-tone up/down (for 1st / 2nd violin and cello,
based on the following pitch of the respective instrument)
> trillo crescendo (for viola)
forth sixth >dynamic process with the following variants (based on ECM / electrical conductivity measurement):
1 = short crescendo up to "dynamic"; then long decrescendo
2 = crescendo up to "dynamic"; then decrescendo
3 = long crescendo up to "dynamic"; then short decrescendo
fifth sixth >tremolo
lowest sixth >staccato and col legno battuto

The tone (based on ECM) of the strings changes over three zones of the instruments:
1 = sul tasto
2 = normale
3 = sul ponte


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