Chattermarks: Field Recordings from Palmer Station

Leonard ( Cheryl E. Leonard )
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During the austral summer of 2008/09 I journeyed to Palmer Station, Antarctica on a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. I went to the Ice to create music using natural sounds and materials, but I began by simply listening. Before I could combine my voice with Antarctica’s I found I needed to first experience, explore, and try to understand this unique place: its ecosystems, weather, landscapes, and sounds. So each day I roamed amongst the melting ice and bustling wildlife, searching out and recording Palmer’s soundscapes. Some of my field recording “studies” I have since incorporated into musical compositions, but many of them I do not wish to add to or manipulate. They are fascinating and complete as they are. Collected here are my favorite undeveloped Antarctic field recordings. - Cheryl E. Leonard, December 2009

Palmer Station is located at 64°46' S, 64°03' W on the southwestern coast of Anvers Island, off the Antarctic Peninsula. It is the smallest of the three permanent U.S. research stations in Antarctica, with a summer population of approximately 40 people and a winter staff of about 20. The abundance of wildlife around Palmer makes it a superb location for studying birds, seals, and other parts of the marine ecosystem, and in 1990 the area was designated by the National Science Foundation as a long term ecological research site. Meteorology, upper atmosphere physics, glaciology, seismology, and geology have also been studied at and around Palmer. The current station was completed in 1970 and was named after Nathaniel B. Palmer, the first American to discover the Antarctic Peninsula.  
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