WORKS
NEWS
FACTS
TEXTS
TONES

Jacek
Smolicki

The Fells.
A Soundwalk through Timescapes of Kilpisjärvi Area
(2023)

Across the fells, the rhythmic splashes of lakes and ponds, home to a variety of imperceptible yet audible aquatic insects, meet the soothing hiss that follows each increasingly unpredictable arrival of rain. The flickering of lightning discharges intersect with the electric buzz that powers the network of research areas and scientific infrastructures scattered across the mountainsides, monitoring the condition of this part of the world. The clattering of reindeer hooves, accompanied by the ringing of their bells, the mournful chirps of golden plovers and the wavering calls of loons collide with the echoes of World War II, carried by the wind as it tirelessly brushes against the ruins of dugouts, barbed-wired field prisons, and rusty debris from a crashed German Nazi airplane. What histories and futures do these soundscapes reveal, and which ones do they obscure?

This soundwalk composition stems from my artistic research residency at the Kilpisjärvi Bilogical Station in the Finnish Arctic Circle in August 2023. During this period, I conducted a series of soundwalks, listening sessions, and field recordings, experimenting with various listening positions from which to witness the past, present and future of this unique, vulnerable, and disrupted place. All sounds in this soundwalk composition originate from these locally conducted wanderings. They are accompanied by a narrative drawn from field notes and conversations with historians and scientists I met during my residency. The narrative is additionally interwoven with thoughts shared by Oula A. Valkeapää, a local reindeer herder, artist, and storyteller. They reflect on the significance of wind for human and other-than-human inhabitants of the local fells.

Premiered in Helsinki in October 2023, the piece guides its participants through a hybrid and multilayered space where distant sounds from the arctic fells converge with the immediate soundscapes of Helsinki. Within this sonic experience, seemingly ordinary elements of the city soundscape become gateways to both perceivable and imperceptible sonorities of the fells. The piece was accompanied by a booklet and an essay published on BioArt Society website.


Thanks to Hannu Autto, service coordinator at the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station and all the staff members, the Bioart Society crew, Piritta Puhto, Milla Millasnoore, Yvonne Billimore, Lisa Kalkowski, Leena Valkeapää and her partner Oula for facilitating my stay at the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station between July 31 and August 13, 2023. Many thanks also to Emil Kastehelmi, Aleksi Rikkinen, Onna, Rasmus, and all other human and other-than-human entities and energies who I encountered there and who enriched mt work and experience of the fells at the foot of Saana



Images from field recording sessions on the fells surrounding the Kilspisjärvi Biological Station


Excerpt from the soundwalk composition.




















Premiere of "The Fells" at BioArt Society, Helsinki, October 2023. Photo and video documentation by Aman Askarizad