A Polar Night Study - 2014

Artist Residency

Ars Bioarctica November 23- December 21 2014

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Photograph by Rhys Jones

Developed in response to my dichotomous role as both Artist and sleep science technologist 'A Polar Night Study' focuses on the relationship between light exposure/deprivation and 'body-clock' timing during the Arctic Circle's polar-night.

The end of November marks the Arctic Circle's shift into the polar-night where the sun will not rise above the horizon for almost 8 weeks. Chronic sunlight deprivation is known to effect the regulation of a healthy body-clock, though appropriately timed exposure to specialised artificial light can manipulate one's sleep/wake cycle to correct temporal misalignment.

My project artistically explores this phenomena, and the boundaries of body-clock timing in dark environments , with a focus on the role of light exposure and deprivation during the Arctic Circle's polar-night. From late November 2014 I was be based for one month in the Arctic Circle at the Kilpisjarvi Biological Station to artistically record my experiences and observations of life and environment during the polar night.

Image courtesy of astrocal.co.uk


'A Polar Night Study' is an artistic and scientific project inspired by the rich history of Sleep Scientists who have experimented with their own bodies to explore the timing of the body-clock without sunlight. In a performative revisitation of these experiments I will embrace the seemingly eternal darkness of the Arctic winter as a clean-slate against which to tinker with the machinery of my body's internal clocks.

Using my training as a sleep science technologist I designed and partoke in a prosthetic-styled programme over the course of one month to extend my circadian rhythm from a normal 24 hour cycle to new 28 hour cycle. This extension was based around a sleep/wake routine of 9hours 20minutes/18hours 40 minutes (sleep/wake respectively).

Utilising accelorometer-based sleep/wake monitoring and research-grade assessments I recorded and documented my body's physiological and psychological responses to this body-clock resetting.

Throughout the project I also embarked on daily out-door expeditions into Kilpisjarvi's wilderness, forests and mountains, documenting my discoveries on how bodies beyond my own behavde during the polar night. Using drawing, writing, painting and photography I harnessed my new 'out-of-step' sleep/wake routine as device with which to explore and record Kilpisjarvi's unique environment from multiple perspectives in time.

Sleep Scientists Nathaniel Kleitman and Bruce Richardson in their 32 day Mammoth Cave circadian rhythm experiment 1938


The Polar Night Study was documented through a detailed project blog which can be found here. A summarised version can also be found at the Ars Bioarctica website here.

Following the Polar Night Study project I returned to Western Australia as an artist in residence with the Fremantle Arts Centre in order to process develop new bodies of work from the documentation I collected during my time in the Arctic. An account of my works in progress can be found at my FAC residency blog here.


This project has been funded in part by my 'Polar Night Study' campaign with Pozible. Funds raised through this campaign went towards purchasing of monitoring equipment, art materials, Arctic quality clothing and the production of a comprehensive catalogue for the project.

Travel costs for 'A Polar Night Study' have been kindly supported by an Artflight Grant from the Government of Western Australia Department of Culture and the Arts.


I wish to thank to the Government of Western Australia Department of Culture and the Arts for the award of an Artflight Grant to cover the cost of return travel between Perth and Finland in order to conduct the Polar Night Study. Thank you also to the Finnish Bioart Society and the Kilpisjarvi Biological Station for the opportunity to work as an artist in residence with Ars Bioarctica.

A final massive thanks to Bevan Honey and the Fremantle Art Centre's AIR programme for supporting me as an Artist in Residence on returning from the Arctic and to all those who donated to my Pozible campaign. With out you neither of these residency opportunities would have been possible. A full list of the project's supporters can be found on the Polar Night Project sight here.