IHME Helsinki Commission

Jana Winderen. Kuva/Photo: Lena Winderen.

IHME Helsinki Artist 2020 – Jana Winderen

IHME’s expert team has chosen the Norwegian artist Jana Winderen to make the first IHME Helsinki Commission in 2020. Winderen is a sound artist who is interested in various sound environments and ecosystems. She explores places in water systems and uses tools for her research that represent the latest technology.

Jana Winderen (b. 1965) has a degree in Fine Art from Goldsmiths, University of London, having previously studied mathematics, chemistry and fish ecology at the University of Oslo. Her works frequently take the form of multi-channel sound installations or concerts, but she has also created sound worlds for films, dance works and radio, and published material on CD, vinyl and cassette. Her works have been experienced in art institutions and public spaces in the USA, Europe and Asia. Winderen lives and works in Oslo.

Example works

Listening with Carp, 2019

Listening with Carp, Now is the Time was composed in Wuzhen, China. In the material that Winderen has recorded we hear the sound produced by the various fish living in canals. The work combines this local sound material with recordings made in the world’s oceans, which has a sound frequency that both carp and humans can hear. The work is on display as part of the Wuzhen Contemporary Art Exhibition March 31–June 30, 2019.  Read more here. 

Through the bones, 2018

For thousands of years, fishermen have been locating fish and other sea creatures in the water by listening through the surface with a wooden oar. This ancient technique has been practised in various communities around the world and, for instance, in Greenland they use oars to detect whale songs. This listening is possible because the sound created by the creatures living under the water is transmitted through the wooden oar and into the human skull, and via the bone directly into the inner ear. Marine mammals and fish use an equivalent listening mechanism.

Jana Winderen found this way of listening on her field trip to Thailand for the Biennale, and has since made several visits to Thailand to learn more about this listening mechanism and about the way that villages that practise sustainable fishing maintain a healthy, viable community by caring for both environment and people. Through the bones combines the mechanics of listening using oars with new technology and hydrophone recording techniques. Visitors to the 2018 Thailand Biennale also had a chance to listen to underwater life through oars in the River Pali under the guidance of local fishermen. Read more here.

Rats – secret soundscapes of the city, 2017

Rat colonies live in mutual coexistence with humans. Some communication between rats is in the ultrasound frequency range – above 20,000 Hz, which is inaudible to the human ear. Jana Winderen wanted to discover whether the stories of rats serenading each other with love songs are true. She recorded the ultrasonic soundscape of Bjørvika in Oslo, which is only detectable at ultrasound frequencies and then slowed and deepened it to create her own composition that is perceptible to human ears. In the research and recordings for the work Winderen employed new technology and collaborated with a researcher at the University of Surrey. In autumn 2017, the multichannel work could be heard on loudspeakers in the urban riverscape around the Akerselva (Aker River) in Oslo. Rats – secret soundscapes of the city was realized in collaboration with the Munchmuseet on the Move 2017 project and the nyMusikk centre for experimental music. Read more here.

More about Jana Winderen’s production and links to published recordings:


Why Jana Winderen?

The Chair of IHME’s expert team, Tuula Arkio, explains the selection of Jana Winderen to make the 2020 IHME commissioned artwork as follows: “Right now, the oceans and glaciers are also in the grip of climate change. Jana Winderen’s art and its underwater sound worlds are a reminer of what will be destroyed if we do nothing.” Also curator Timo Valjakka talks about the value of the oceans: “Life comes from the ocean. The future of life on Earth also relies on the wellbeing of the ocean.”

IHME’s Executive Director Paula Toppila adds: “Jana Winderen’s production combines art’s capacity for envisioning possible worlds, alternative narratives, in what we hear, at the same time as her choice of materials reminds us of the existence, value and vulnerability of other species. In Winderen’s works we are faced with incomprehensible otherness, an untranslated and often vanishing sound world, which we would not get to experience without her. We might call them vanitas works for the age of climate change.”

Professor Hanna Johansson talks about the experimental nature of the works: “Jana Winderen’s art sensitizes my hearing and makes the ocean world present in an amazingly intense way. Everything to do with the oceanic and the aquatic; the thawing, the freezing, the rain, the gurgling, the wetness, the freshness touch me with their sounds alone and make me feel the water as if for the very first time.”

Previous IHME Artists and Projects

2008: Films and video works: Anri Sala, Jeremy Deller, Lauri Astala & Elina and Hanna Brotherus, Runa Islam, Christian Marclay, Deimantas Narkevičius, Francis Alÿs, Matthew Barney

2009: Antony Gormley: Clay and the Collective Body

2010: Susan Philipsz: When Day Closes

2011: Superflex: Modern Times Forever (Stora Enso Building, Helsinki)

2012: Christian Boltanski: The Heart Archive

2013: Miroslaw Balka: Signals

2014: Yael Bartana: True Finn

2015: Jeremy Deller: Do Touch

2016: Kateřina Šedá: Tram Buskers’ Tour

2017: Theaster Gates & The Black Monks of Mississippi: The Black Charismatic

2018: Henrik Håkansson: THE BEETLE

The ten years of IHME Projects have been collected in a book: Art in Public x 10 – IHME 2009 – 2018 available from web book stores.

Find out more about the history of IHME.

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