Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Penguin Bones Are Here!

Since my return from Antarctica I have been slowly sorting through the materials I collected and, of course, all my memories and experiences. I have hours and hours of audio recordings, 3500 still photos, and 20 hours of high definition video. The goal is to create a set of musical compositions with a visual accompaniment from all these media and ideas. I am very inspired to make them, but it's going to take a while.

I am happy to say that the last of my Antarctic materials arrived yesterday: my Adelie Penguin bones. Don't worry, no penguins were harmed for this project, I just collected bones I found laying around from birds that were long dead from natural causes (probably mostly those fat skuas!). Anyhow now, nearly 3 months after I left Palmer, the penguin bones have finally made their way through the maze of shipping and customs hoops and are in my possession. They join my modest collection of shells and stones, which arrived in March, and soon I will begin exploring their potential as musical instruments.

For the moment, however, I am content to just unwrap and hold them, these small pieces of evidence (they even came in plastic ziplock bags) that my Antarctic adventure really happened. Here in the midst of "normal" life in San Francisco sometimes my stay at Palmer Station seems as remote as a murky dream, and I wonder if I just imagined it all. Of course it was real, and all I need do to bring it all back is remember the feel of ice bumping against our zodiac, the smell of penguin poop, or the rumble of the glacier calving in Arthur Harbor. Plus I have all my audio, video and photography documentations to vividly jog my memory.

Still, sometimes there is nothing like touching an object actually from Antarctica to make me feel connected to this distant land.