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Out From The Flood explores the environmental data being measured at the Oulanka Research Station in north-eastern Finland

Launching today Tuesday, July 7th from 5PM Invisible Flock and Subzero present the first piece from a new, ongoing body of work: Out From The Flood.  The collaboration explores the environmental data being measured at the Oulanka Research Station in north-eastern Finland, recording live data as it unfolds over this unusual time and visualising it as a durational, immersive and multi-sensory online experience.

Out From The Flood LiDAR scan image_Forest floor data
Out From The Flood LiDAR scan image_Forest floor data

The first instalment of Out From The Flood will take the form of a desktop app. A generative web platform will replay complex research data sets as they develop, interpreted by the artists to create a spiritual, poetic and sensory encounter with the changing landscape of Oulanka. Audio data sets captured at the research centre and four varied sites in Oulanka — under snow in the forest, in the river underwater, at the local ski resort and at the local airport — are meshed to create an evolving soundscape that will allow audiences to listen to the landscape deep in the forest and under the water as it melts. The piece’s visualisation likewise embodies patterns, behaviours and textures inspired by the environment it evokes. A virtual landscape is formed using high density LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) scans — a remote sensing technology using laser measurements to create 360° “point cloud” images with millimetre precision — which the data will push, pull and reshape creating new patterns and relationships between the land and the invisible forces affecting it.

The project is taking place at a pivotal moment in time. This year the Oulanka river is flooding in full force at 464cm — almost the highest level ever recorded; and the long-term findings of the Oulanka Research Station, which has mapped the impact of climate change over the past 50 years with experiments designed to outlive the team that monitors them, charts this as an impact of global warming. It is also a period in which emissions have momentarily dropped; a pause in the norm as people’s activities across the world have been restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Out From The Flood visualises and compares the time before COVID-19, during, and the shift out of it and how this period has influenced the environment in the Oulanka National Park. The audio data sets are being captured with Open Field Recorders (OFR), a device that allows for remote long-form bioacoustic recording, which was pioneered by Invisible Flock together with LEAP (Landscape Ecology and Primatology, Bournemouth University) for documenting large sections of a rainforest in Sumatra in their project The Sleeping Tree. Both the OFRs and the LiDAR scans have been set up in the field and operated by Subzero, while Invisible Flock manage the data sets from their UK studio collaboration and digital communication making the work possible while both collectives are grounded by the lockdown.

The artwork digitally brings to life the many ecosystems shifting through this season and constitutes an important scientific and artistic collaborative response, exposing human impact to the environment in real-time. It also acts as a provocation on what we return to as normal.

As Victoria Pratt, Creative Director and co-founder of Invisible Flock points out: “What this time has shown us is that change, when needed, can be collectively orchestrated.”

Out From The Flood A collaboration between Invisible Flock and Subzero, commissioned by The Finnish Cultural and Academic Institutes as part of ‘Together Alone’  www.outfromtheflood.com Live from 7th July 2020 from 5PM

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