Icesongs

Multimedia Ιnstallation (Sound-scape, Water, Dry Ice, Floor Piece)

Curated by: Alice Morgaine

La Verrière, Fondation d’enterprise Hermès

Brussels, Belgium, 2010

Upon entering the space, a primal songlike sound attacks the senses. At first it resembles electronic music; or some mysterious voice, like that of whales. It is the sound of icebergs edges, as they move, break, melt or collide against each other. A square, shallow water tank, located centrally in the space, is fully filled. The whole floor resembles an abstract image, a dark blue square gradually transforming into a bright white, as it reaches the room’s edges. The image is produced from an enlarged satellite image of a random location in Antarctica. The sound is recorded with the use of Cold War technology (super-microphones that used to track nuclear submarines in the South Pacific), so that it enables us to eavesdrop from thousands of miles away as icebergs break off Antarctica’s ice shelf.

An imagined landscape, at once familiar and alien, forges an opportunity to re-visit a vista of the mind where a pre-existing connection between our own Body, Mind and Nature is re-energised.

*Dr Alexander Gavrilov and **Dr Jason Gedamke were kind enough to put together and send to me, many hours of recordings (samples used from 2003 – 2006), of the shifting icebergs’ sounds. These sounds coming directly from the Antarctic Ocean are used to compose the soundscape of the “ICESONGS” installation.

*Centre for Marine Science and Technology, Curtin University of Technology
**Marine Mammal Research Program, Australian Antarctic Division

 

Dimentions: 2,800 ft2

Icesongs, the first phase of “Vital Space-projects”, was on view at La Verrière in September 2010. In the same way as Danae Stratou wanted to meas- ure passing time through the slow disintegration of her installation in the desert, she became intrigued by the research of Australian scientists who, for years now, have been working on the melting of the glaciers. *Dr Alexander Gavrilov and **Dr Jason Gedamke use underwater microphones to record the rubbing of these glaciers and their muffled booms, like the palpitations of the planet’s heart. They were very happy to share these echoes with Danae Stratou. You could hear a preview of the recording at her exhibition in Brussels. The artist, whose work targets the senses and the con- science, wanted the visitor to take off their shoes to walk on the immense sheet of water at the cen- tre of the installation (“paddling barefoot in the exhibition is an aid to understanding”). The water reflects La Verrière, and the audio provides the

geological, subterranean, crushing throbbing of dying glaciers. Like the Jakobshavn in Greenland, like “Yala” and “Axio” in spite of being at an altitude of 5,000 metres in Nepal. Or like the glacier that “lost” an enormous block of ice in Alaska in August 2011, sowing panic among tourists on a nearby ship. They have been constantly receding for at least forty years and the current climate could cause their disappearance. Just when everyone has the vague sense of dancing on a volcano, when the accidental is becoming common, in a world that is in poor shape, Danae Stratou launches a salutary warning and a way to link the everyday to outer space.

ALICE MORGAINE

Art Director, La Verrière