Sara Pajunen

Violinist, composer, sound and visual artist

‘Mine Songs: Sounding an Altered Landscape’ is a personal long-term project that explores the altered landscape of Northern Minnesota (USA), the artist’s childhood home. Over the last century and a half, the earth of the Mesabi Iron Range has been gutted through the process of iron ore mining for the production of steel – the same steel that fueled American efforts in World War II and that built much of the infrastructure of the United States. The project uses various media (including traditional composition, graphic scores, moving image, archival voice, environmental and/or processed sound) to create a complex and provocative depiction of a region steeped in American narratives and currently mired in political divide.

During my home residency, I will be creating a sound installation under the ‘Mine Songs’ umbrella, composing Mine Songs audio work, and experimenting with the relationship between image and sound sourced from the Mesabi Iron Range region. In my work I am interested in the subjugation of the person and the reversal of the current relationship between the environment and the human, which has placed the human in the position of dominance. Using environmental recordings captured with a variety of microphones as the basis for all composition, I let the characteristics of the sound dictate my musical response. I, human, take a secondary role to amplify the inherent power and musical properties of the environmental recording. With image, I search for perspectives (often from above) that highlight both great destruction and great beauty, challenging our current American obsession with dualistic conclusions.