Final Thoughts on Hailuoto Sound Art Camp

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On the ferry, journeying away from the island, I started to wonder what is the purpose of the whole camp and what is it’s meaning. Specifically, why did I choose to travel to the other end of the country to engage in sonic activities? Although I still don’t know the answer to this, I believe the island left its mark on me.

            My understanding of nature in terms of artistic practice has changed over this week. On arrival, my thoughts were mainly concerned around being able to make amazing field recordings or at least to be inspired by the island’s pristine nature to write equally inspired music. It did not occur to me before how one sided my relationship with nature was. Through the sonic interventions we did, culminating on our piece for Hailuoto airfield and our feedback session, I understood the importance of giving back to nature. Artistic exploration instead of artistic exploitation. By giving back to the nature that inspires and incites, we are also giving back to the community that lives from it.

            This theme of giving back became evident over the week in conversations with Antye Greie-Ripatti. I was especially moved and inspired by her work with the local children. Her open lab lets children explore digital media and concepts.  This lets them to assign purpose and meaning to digital tools whilst fostering their creativity. An example of this is the iPad orchestra. I must say I was a bit skeptical of the idea, but after seeing videos of the kids performing at a local festival and them truly enjoying it, I understood how important it is to them and the community.  Furthermore, imaginative use of the technology native to these children likely encourages creativity in the future as well. Although maintaining the lab must not be easy at all times, I can only imagine how rewarding it is to see the results of giving back to the community.

            To me, the purpose of the camp is to challenge preconceptions of what artistic work in a rural setting can be and by extension, to question what being an artist is. This meant re-evaluating my relationship with nature and the communities it encloses.  It also made me wonder what is it that I want to achieve, with what I do. It is listening on a deeply personal level but the heard is diffused beyond the self. And the more you listen, the better you can respond.

I can wholeheartedly recommend this experience to anyone who is not afraid to expand their comfort zone out into the sonic wilderness. Travelling out so far to reach isolation may seem intimidating at first, but once you make nature your audience and open your ears to silence you’ll feel incredibly liberated.

Text: Antti Suomalainen