All Depends on the Sun

All Depends on the Sun

Sound piece, 27'19'' © 2015
Originally commissioned by ABC RN’s Creative Audio Unit, for Soundproof
Broadcast date: June 19th, 2015
Mix: Philippe Charriot

Words by Tuula Karpinen, Dr. Antti Kero, Dr. Unto K. Laine and Janne Särkelä. 
Additional music by Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith. VLF recordings by Tero Raita. 
Special thanks to Felix Blume. 

Since ancient times historical writings, scientific reports, and indigenous myths have reported audible sounds that accompany the northern lights. Recent studies suggest that these sounds occur during geomagnetic storms and most likely do not originate from the visual aurora. Nonetheless, the existence of these sounds has always been controversial. Most of the scientists who were concerned with this phenomenon left their study in the 1960s. At this time the infrasound was measured and accepted as the only sound connected to the northern lights. Despite all opposition, the Finnish Professor Unto K. Laine from the Aalto University in Helsinki started to study aurora related sounds in the late 1990s and has since collected evidence to prove their existence. His material is still unpublished and the question about how those sounds are produced remains unresolved.

Driven by the words of those who have encountered and/or studied aurora related sounds, All Depends on the Sun delves into this phenomenon with the aim to open up wider reflections on sound and listening. 

Originally produced by the Creative Audio Unit of the national Australian radio broadcaster ABC, for Soundproof, with support from the Cultural Fund of Südtirol, Deutschlandradio Kultur, the Finnish Cultural Foundtion, the Goethe-Institute Finland, the Finnish Society of Bioart (Ars Bioarctica Residency) and the Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory. In 2015 the piece was nominated for the Prix Europa in the category radio documentary.

Places Hardly Exist, a text by Salomé Voegelin, written for the exhibition Islands Songs at Grimmuseum, Berlin: