FoAM, Spectres of Landings retreat and residency, Seili, 2019.
FoAM, Moss recordings, Seili, 2019.
FoAM, Listening to a mossy hill, Seili, 2019.

Post Glacial Rebound

“Whether invaded by crabs, humans or ticks, the island continues its slow and steady rise above the shallow waters, unperturbed. The biological time of generations intersects with the slow time of tectonic forces. Fluttering, struggling, change, fragility and adaptation in a micro-zone of intensity, amid its post glacial rebound.” –FoAM.

FoAM (Nik Gaffney & Maja Kuzmanovic) produced the soundscape and soundwalk, Post Glacial Rebound, in collaboration with CAA and the Archipelago Research Institute. The artwork, accessible to the public year-round via a weblink, takes visitors arriving on Seili on a personal, audible journey through the island’s epochal changes. The artists describe the work as “an invitation to attune to the vibrations of Seili’s landscapes and inhabitants, to notice subtle resonances and disturbances emerging, then subsiding.” The hour-long soundwalk, comprising recorded and resynthesised material gathered during their time with Seili, makes audible the gentle vibrations that rumble through the island’s interconnecting and cross-generational bodies.

As its title indicates, the commission focuses on the gradual uplift of Seili’s land mass following the retreat of glaciers since the last ice age. For this work, FoAM paid also close attention to the Archipelago Research Institute’s time series of data collected since the 1960’s on the transformations of the marine environment surrounding the island. The time series reveal the gradual decrease in salinity and the increase in temperature of the sea water due to global climate change, and their impacts on the plankton and Baltic herring populations. Sonification of the time series resonates through the soundwalk.

In their reflective text, FoAM acknowledge and thank the many, human and more-than-human agents that have contributed to this creative work. The soundscape features wide-ranging field recordings – some of which have been recorded by fellow Spectres in Change artists Kalle Hamm and Band of Weeds: “Thanks to all the animate, inanimate and partially animate participants in the field recordings and time series. Thanks to the dawn and twilight choruses, to the insects near the viking garden and the mosses of Leper’s rock. To the reeds and grasses, trees and pebbles. To the moth catcher and the dying fridge of Portti pääty. To the rain, dew and sea water[..].”

FoAM also recognise the technological forces, and the narratives of labour, which have aided them in the realisation of the work: “the co-operation of a Sennheiser AMBEO VR Mic[..] H2a hydrophone and miscellaneous mobile phones and computers using Ardour, Audacity[..] with an adhoc collection of racket and python scripts. Thanks to their material substrate and the myriad invisible products of human effort and ingenuity.”

This commission was produced following two visits by FoAM to the island of Seili – once in 2017 as part of Spectres in Change, and again in 2019 as part of Spectres of Landings. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, FoAM’s plans to return at various intervals to the island were disrupted and they began working remotely with the material previously recorded. In an interview with CAA, FoAM reflected that “we are paying more attention to the recorded materials on both their own terms and in terms of relating them to the changing contexts around Seili. The work is becoming more of a prefiguration, or a yearning, maybe even an homage to a place that we care about but where we could not return.”

Post Glacial Rebound is part of FoAM’s wider body of work Resonances – a series of sonic propositions concerned with listening to the sounds of the Earth unfolding at different timescales and in different landscapes. Within Resonances, they collect, reflect and reshape the oscillations of earthbound entities to create soundscapes using field recordings and digital synthesis. Post Glacial Rebound was released on 12th August 2022 in conjunction with the event NPT x CAA How do you know what you know? Exercises in Attentiveness I on the island of Seili.

Listen to Post Glacial Rebound
Download the soundwalk, and follow the map with instructions here

Read CAA’s interview with FoAM
Learn more about FoAM’s work

Post Glacial Rebound was commissioned by CAA as part of Spectres in Change project, funded by Kone Foundation. FoAM’s work is also supported by the Liminous Foundation.