Newhouse professor brings Antarctic pioneer diary to life in ‘Aurora Passage’
On Saturday, Aug. 18, Arc Cinema in Australia will host the inaugural live performance of “Aurora Passage” by sound designer and composer Douglas Quin, associate professor in the Newhouse School. The performance is a multimedia composition combining piano, live narration, Antarctic soundscape recordings and archival imagery based on the 1912-13 diaries of Bert Lincoln, an able-bodied (A.B.) seaman on the SY Aurora.
This is the final of a series of live events to mark the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia’s (NFSA) Extreme Film and Sound exhibition, celebrating 100 years of Australasian Antarctic expeditions.
In the Austral summer of 1912-1913, the Aurora and her crew sailed from Hobart to provide relief for Sir Douglas Mawson and the Australasian Antarctic Expedition. Lincoln’s account of the transit across the Furious Fifties and Screaming Sixties paints a vivid and compelling picture of the day-to-day operations of sailing and steaming under very difficult and trying conditions.
Quin says, “I stumbled upon the diaries of Bert Lincoln online. (His) voice offers a unique perspective on day-to-day life at sea under harsh conditions—a voice not often recognized in official accounts.
“I edited excerpts from the (Lincoln) diaries and developed a composition with music, soundscapes and narration at ANU last year. The ‘Aurora Passage’ expands this original work from 30 to 52 minutes, incorporating subsequent research into the Antarctic audiovisual and documents held at the NFSA, the National Library of Australia, the Mitchell Collection at the State Library of New South Wales and holdings in the Mawson Centre at the South Australian Museum, integrating additional materials into a broader understanding of the Aurora and her role in Antarctic expeditions.”