adfreeze - the process by which two objects are bonded together by ice


In October 2011 composer Cheryl E. Leonard and visual artist Oona Stern traveled around Svalbard, a remote archipelago above the Arctic Circle north of mainland Norway, conducting research for Adfreeze Project, their first collaboration. The project is a series of multidisciplinary art installations, video/sound pieces, and musical performances. Each of these is a "portrait" of a site visited, and collectively they portray the region.

In Svalbard, Oona and I explored the capital, Longyearbyen, and sailed the northwestern coast of Spitsbergen Island on the S/V Antigua with the Arctic Circle Residency Program. Most days our ship anchored, and we headed ashore to investigate and interact with the local landscape. We made rubbings and drawings; played music on rocks, ice, abandoned buildings, and mining ruins; shot photographs; recorded video and audio; gathered rock and fossil samples; and studied the region's natural and cultural histories.

From this on-site research Oona and I are creating a series of works that combine sound, video, musical instruments, installation, sculpture, drawing, and photography. To date we have produced three video/music pieces (Iceline, Glugge, and Moffen), which can be exhibited in galleries or presented as live music performances with video projected behind the musician on stage. These video/music pieces have been performed in numerous locations in the U.S. over the last 3 years. Our first installation piece, Monocobreen, was shown in 2011 at Kurant Gallery in Tromsø, Norway, as part of the Insomnia Festival for Future Music and Techno Culture. In 2012 At Length magazine published Ice Notes, a set of journal entries, images and sounds we collected at two sites in Svalbard, Coraholmen and Monacobreen. The Adfreeze Project blog can be found at

We are still busy developing Adfreeze Project works. We recently received a grant from the New York State Council of the Arts to develop an interactive installation version of Iceline. Our next new piece, Silene, will be based on a tiny arctic plant, the nodding lychnis (Silene wahlbergella) that we encountered at Hornbækpollen.


(4:20, music and video, 2013) depicts the Arctic Ocean from the perspective of floating glacial ice. Investigating the boundary between above and below water, the piece provides a portal into the sonic and visual details of this chaotic, yet beautiful environment. It also touches on effects of global climate change, including the melting of polar ice caps and rising sea levels. The video and audio field recordings that comprise Iceline were collected in Liefdefjorden, Svalbard. Additional sounds were produced with stone slabs and shells from the region.

(8:30, music and video, 2014) is a response to the threat of increasing industrialization in the Arctic Ocean, and an elegy for the Arctic icecap and the ecosystem it supports. As sea ice in the region continues to shrink, shipping routes across the Arctic Ocean are becoming increasingly viable, and nations are eager to exploit newly accessible natural resources. Such invasive human activities are likely to further disrupt the already struggling Arctic ecosystem. The piece also references the history of European explorations of the Arctic and the many doomed quests to reach the North Pole and discover a Northwest Passage.

The music was made from field recordings of the barkentine Antigua as it sailed and motored in the Arctic Ocean, together with sounds produced with sand, glass, kelp flutes, water, limpet shells, saw blades, and rocks from Trugghamna, Svalbard. The video footage was shot on location in Forlundsundet, Raudfjorden, and Woodfjorden, Svalbard.
Glugge is the Norwegian word for window or porthole.


Moffen (4:30, music and two videos, 2014) was inspired by the playful juvenile walruses we encountered while onboard the Antigua near flat, barren Moffen Island at a latitude of approximately 80 degrees north. The two videos were made with footage shot from our ship during rough seas. The music combines field recordings of the Arctic Ocean with sounds played on clam shells (clams are a favorite walrus food) and kelpinet (bull whip kelp with a saxophone mouth piece). The kelpinet parts were recorded and developed in collaboration with reed player Phillip Greenlief and imitate many of the walrus's unique vocalizations.


(3:40 continuous loop; video projection, audio,
paint, stones; 2011) is an installation based on glacier ice in Liefdefjorden, on the north side of Spitsbergen Island. A music composition crafted from field recordings of floating ice is combined with video projected onto the floor of the gallery, overlaying a pattern of stones. A silhouette of the glacier is rendered on the walls. Video and audio were both collected onsite in the fjord.