Soil Voices - a 24-hour performance by Miranda Whall

Photo credit: Ashley Calvert

Photo credit: Ashley Calvert

02 August 2023

Aberystwyth University lecturer and artist, Miranda Whall, will be ‘giving a voice to the soil’ as part of an innovative project showing how art can raise awareness of climate change.

In a 24-hour performance during the weekend of 12-13 August, Miranda will be livestreaming from a ditch high in the Cambrian Mountains.

The self-dug ditch approximately 600 metres above sea level, is located on the plateau managed by Aberystwyth’s University’s Pwllpeiran Upland Research Centre, known as the Ffridd (the upland fringe).

On the hour, every hour, Miranda will attempt to vocalise a live and continuous numerical data stream emitted from sensors in the ground around her, which measure the fluctuating soil moisture and soil temperature.

Miranda Whall explains:

“This project is about facilitating wider audiences and non-scientists to become part of the conversation about land management and climate change. My role as the artist, is to provide a new perspective on the scientific research by literally embedding my body into the landscape so that I can embody and give a voice to the soil.  I will be visualising and presenting the soil sensor data in a way that will take it beyond traditional statistics, in the hope that it will have a wider meaning and greater impact.”

‘Soil Voices’ is part of a groundbreaking academic discipline-hopping project funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, ‘Making the invisible visible: Instrumenting and interpreting an upland landscape for climate change resilience.’

Other Aberystwyth University academics involved in the project are Professor Mariecia Fraser from the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences; Professor Andrew Thomas from the Department of Geography and Earth Science; Professor Fred Labrosse from the Department of Computer Science; and Dr Pete Todd from the Department of Mathematics.

Professor in Upland Agroecosystems, Mariecia Fraser, said:

“Our uplands are facing many challenges. We are seeing more and higher intensity rainfall, more frequent droughts and warmer temperatures, which increase the likelihood of vegetation fires, soil erosion, flooding and soil carbon depletion. However, the uplands are vitally important to agricultural livelihoods, maintaining (and increasing) carbon stores, biodiversity and water storage. This project intends to draw attention and give a new perspective to these multiple challenges facing our upland areas.”

The livestream will be broadcast from 3pm on Saturday 12 August until 3pm on Sunday 13 August on Miranda Whall’s Facebook page:

The project has been supported by the Natural Environment Research Council,  Aberystwyth University and the Live Art Development Agency.

Photo by Ashley Calvert