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Art Project Captures Sights and Sounds of Climate Change in a Finnish Forest

By Sam Gaskin
2 July 2020

The collaboration between SubZero and Invisible Flock aims to make the phenomenon not just understood but felt.

Art Project Captures Sights and Sounds of Climate Change in a Finnish Forest

An Open Field Recorder used for long-form bioacoustics recording. Courtesy Invisible Flock and SubZero.

Out From the Flood, an art project utilising live environmental data captured in the northeast of Finland, will go live on Tuesday 7 July.

Commissioned by the Finnish Cultural and Academic Institutes, the project is a collaboration between interactive arts studio Invisible Flock and SubZero, a collective of artists and scientists working at the edge of the Arctic.

Ben Eaton, Technical Developer and co-founder of Invisible Flock, said the project 'allows us to work directly in the field of changing environment, responding to experiments that are decades long, while designing new methodologies that communicate human impact in real time.'

Art Project Captures Sights and Sounds of Climate Change in a Finnish Forest

Courtesy SubZero and Invisible Flock.

Experienced through a forthcoming desktop app, Out From the Flood includes a soundscape and a virtual recreation of the landscape in Oulanka, where the University of Oulu's Oulanka Research Station uses a suite of instruments to monitor climate change and its impacts.

The soundscape comprises live recordings from five sites in Oulanka: beneath the snow in a forest, underwater in the flooding Oulanka River, at a ski resort, at the local airport, and at the research centre. The sounds are captured using Open Field Recorders (OFRs), which allow for remote, long-form bioacoustics recording, a technology developed by Invisible Flock with Bournemouth University's Landscape Ecology and Primatology, originally to listen to large sections of the Sumatran rainforest.

The virtual landscape is being created using LIDAR (LIght Detection And Ranging) scans capable of creating a 'point cloud' that's accurate to a millimeter. The virtual landscape's patterns, behaviours and textures respond to changes measured in the environment.

'[W]e're doing cutting edge research on the effects of climate change on two different ecosystems: a nutrient-rich fen and a nutrient-poor pine forest,' said Riku Paavola, leader of SubZero.

'What really makes the research platform unique is that it combines state-of-the-art modern sensor systems that are automated and work 24/7/365 with a controlled, manipulated natural experiment,' he added. 'On top of that, the system is designed to run until the world ends!' —[O]

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