Kat Austen

Kat Austen was a Cultural Fellow in Art and Science at the University of Leeds’ Cultural Institute. She was also 2017 Friends of SPRI Artist in Residence (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge) and Artist-in-Residence at University College London’s Faculty of Maths and Physical Science.

The Matter of the Soul

Over the course of her Fellowship at Leeds she developed The Matter of the Soul, a new media artwork that explores the process of dispersal and transformation in the Arctic, in collaboration with researchers from the Priestley International Centre for Climate. The work draws an analogy between human migration, the movement of water from ice to ocean in the Arctic and changing identity online.

The Matter of the Soul captures the moment of transition that comprises both loss and transformation in the Arctic, both for water and for human beings.

Kat Austen

Kat began The Matter of the Soul during an Artist in the Arctic residency with Friends of Scott Polar Research Institute in 2017. During a residency on the ship the Akademik Sergei Vavilov, sailing through the Canadian High Arctic, she made field recordings of the acidity and salinity of Arctic waters using hacked pH and conductivity meters.

The musical compositions for The Matter of the Soul are based around field recordings of the different acidity and salinity of Arctic waters using hacked pH and conductivity meters. These properties of the waters vary depending on the melting of ice that increases the amount of fresh liquid water in the Arctic. By measuring these properties, and by taking sounds from these measurements, the work captures the way that climate change is affecting this fragile region.

The focus on dispersal and transformation in the Arctic is not limited to ice and melting, however. Human activity is intrinsically linked with climate change and change in this region. The compositions also include samples from interviews with visitors to and inhabitants of Baffin Island and Resolute, exploring the impact of human movement on the region’s culture and individuals’ identities, and reflecting on the environmental changes interwoven with this process. The raw material and compositions from the project will be released online under Creative Commons, with a call for others to remix the work’s identity as it travels the internet.

Premiere performance

Howard Assembly Room - symphony performance and installation of The Matter of the Soul
23 October 2018
Leeds, UK

Past shows

Polar Encounters: 200 years of contemporary and historical polar art - installation of The Matter of the Soul
30 July - 17 August 2018
Bonhams, London, UK

Music Tech Fest - performance of Concentration The Matter of the Soul
3 September 2018
Stockholm, Sweden

Headlands Center for the Artsperformance of Concentration The Matter of the Soul
4 - 12 September 2018
San Francisco, USA

KLASICA Symposiumcreative workshop
29 September – 2 October 2018
Taipei, Taiwan

Stage@Leeds - seminar and creative workshop with University of Leeds students
8 - 10 October 2018
Leeds, UK

Architecture and the Senses - screening of Biphasic | The Matter of the Soul
12–14 October 201814 October 2018
Plasy Monastery, Czech Republic

About Kat Austen

Kat lectures a course on art and DIY science at University College London’s Bachelor’s in Arts and Sciences (BASc). She has exhibited at SPACE, London; Kühlhaus, Berlin; Kulturbrauerei Berlin; Palazzo Ducale, Genoa; NYU Shanghai; Schwartz Gallery, London; Kreuzberg Pavillion, Berlin; German Patent Office, Berlin; Carter Road Promenade and What About Art, Mumbai, among others.

She consults on art and science, art and technology, technology in society, futures and scenarios, multiple knowledges, inter-disciplinarity, community and participatory research and design, system resilience and infrastructure design. She has held artist residencies at NYU Shanghai, ArtOxygen Mumbai, LASTheatre among others, and has a PhD in Chemistry from the Royal Institution / UCL. She is an alumnus of the London Creative Network. She is based in Berlin




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