European Mobile Lab for Interactive Artists

Artists: Anna Dumitriu, Dave Lawrence, Antti Tenetz

Type of project: Installation: Ice Sculpture, Arctic Bacteria, Sonic Art, Bioart

Dimensions: Up to 7m x 4m

Materials: Digital Projection/Video, Freezers, Ice, Bacteria, Sound, Photography, Text

KryoLab is an installation that brings together bioart, ice sculpture and sound, in an investigation of delicate relationships in the arctic ecosystem.

This work is about our journey, the experience of participating in the E-MobiLArt project, working with artists from other backgrounds and travelling to new locations. Initial discussions about the nature of arctic, the sound of cracking ice, the disintegration of ice with sound, and the bacterial flora of the Arctic, discussed under the hot Athens sun at the first workshop gained momentum during long nights of conversation illuminated by the cool midnight sun at the edge of the Arctic Circle. The group shared ideas and skills, from a knowledge of ice carving and wildlife filmmaking to sound, composition, performance, installation and microbiology. The work is strongly related to the science and physicality of the arctic.

Links were made with scientists working in Rovaniemi and which drove the investigations. John Moore (Professor of Climate Change, University of Lapland) explained how the Kryosphere (world of ice) is changing and how complex climate data (collected from ice cores which are thousands of years old) is studied. Dr Minna Männistö (Arctic Microbiology Research Group, Finnish Forestry Institute METLA) showed us the new strains of Arctic soil bacteria that she has discovered and explained more about the behaviour of these slow growing psychrophiles, and why they are being studied.

Dr Männistö supplied the team with 17 samples of Arctic soil bacteria and a recipe for culture medium that is far more effective for growing new strains from. Back in Brighton, UK, Anna Dumitriu worked with her long-term collaborator Dr John Paul to further investigate the behaviour of these, often brightly coloured, organisms and photograph them. These investigations form the inspiration for sculptures (containing the genuine individual bacterial strains) carved in Arctic Ice by Antti Tenetz. These beautiful and mysterious Psycrophiles will not survive at body temperature and are therefore completely harmless to humans. But they are important regulators and indicators of climate.

Professor Moore explained his research into ice and climate and spoke about the use of wavelet graphs to visually analyse and study various ecological data collected in the Arctic. Large-scale climate change is made visible to us through the melting glaciers that transform the polar ice plateaux because of the easy reactivity of the ice. Change is more obvious on poles predicting changes to come in more populated regions.

The magic and uniqueness of this disappearing arctic landscape called sound artist Dave Lawrence back in the winter months, to get first hand experience of real Arctic Circle conditions and learn from Antti Tenetz’s expertise. During this period Lawrence and Tenetz ran a series of small experiments with the sound of snow and ice (including transformations), even forming a performance instrument from the frozen carcass of a reindeer. The culmination of this research visit was marked by the revelation of a mysterious phenomenon little known outside the arctic region, that ice consumes objects, swallowing anything casually standing there for too long.

Contact artist: Anna Dumitriu (annadumitriu@hotmail.com)


Dr Minna Männistö – Arctic Microbiologist, The Finnish Forest Research Institute, Metla, Rovaniemi, Finland
John Moore, Professor of Climate Change, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Finland
Dr John Paul, Microbiologist, Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, UK


Inspiration and advice with the sonic capturing and creativity: Max Eastley (as a sound artist Max has extensively explored the arctic waters and land).

The University Of Brighton - Image and Analysis Unit


Arts Council England
Middlesex University, London, UK
Artekno-Eps Oy, Aakkulantie 46, 36220 Kangasala, Finland, tel.+358 3 2447600, fax. +358 3 244 7602, http://www.artekno.fi


Project images
(click to enlarge)