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FROZEN HAWAII – NO MAN’S LAND

The tree in the garden is in reality no less other, no less worthy of our wonder and respect, than the tree in an ancient forest. We need to honor the Other within and the Other next door as much as we do the exotic Other that lives far away.

(Cronan, 1995)


 
 
 
In the search for new ways of grasping the sublime today towards a new aesthetic of the soil this project tries to make a portrait of Antarctica that goes a bit further than solely to be an exploration ‘of the white continent untouched by Man‘, as climate changes clearly indicate that this way of understanding nature is no longer pertinent.
 
This project is about the Earth’s southernmost continent Antarctica more precisely Marie Byrd Land in West Antarctica. It is the largest piece of no man’s land left on Earth named after the wife of an explorer, who took the first flight over the area in 1929. It is difficult to access and remote from any research bases. Low lying clouds often make flying hazardous. Sea ice keeps ships away. It is around the size of Alaska or 37 times the size of Denmark. It is not a single continent but a series of islands covered by an ice sheet – you can think of it as a frozen Hawaii. But for how long will it be frozen? 
 
Antarctica is experiencing rapid exhumation due to climate changes. In fact Pine Island Glacier by the coast of Marie Byrd Land, the largest ice stream in West Antarctica, is the fastest melting glacier in Antarctica, responsible for about 25% of Antarctica’s ice loss. It is changing rapidly; thinning, accelerating and receding as a function of warmer ocean waters as the ice sheet is grounded below sea level, making it intrinsically unstable and susceptible to rapid melting. As such Pine Island Glacier plays a significant role in a possible breakup of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.
 
In making the exotic more familiar the project tries to bring the positive values associated with wilderness and vast horizons closer to home. Thus making a more sustainable approach towards the environment by demanding agency through reflection instead of pure contemplation.
 
Marie Byrd Land Flag
In 2002 the consultative members of the Antarctic Treaty System officially adopted a ag and emblem, as symbol of the continent. Each nation of the Antarctic Treaty uses their own national fags at their respective Antarctic research bases. But as Marie Byrd Land and the Pine Island Area is an unclaimed territory no official flag exists for this area of the continent.
‘Pine Island’ is namesake with several places in US and is also the name given collectively to The Pityusic Islands (Las Pitiusas – from the Latin word for pine trees) consisting of Ibiza and Formentera o the Western coast of Spain. It was called Pityusa, because it is covered with pines and firs. The area has as such common denominators with other parts of the world; being similar to Hawaii in geography and linked to Ibiza through its naming.
Ibiza has its own ag as does Hawaii. This flag is an attempt to make the often airy picture of Marie Byrd Land and the Pine Island area as an exotic place far away more earthbound and tangible; not to claim but to give identity to the area as a being in its own.
 
Marie Byrd Land Bedrock//Marie Byrd Land Ice sheet
The topography of the bedrock under the Antarctic ice sheet is critical in understanding the dynamic motion of the ice sheet, its thickness and its influence on the surrounding ocean and global climate.

Since 2009, NASA’s mission Operation IceBridge (OIB) has flown aircraft over the Antarctic Ice Sheet carrying laser and ice-penetrating radar instruments to collect data about the surface height, bedrock topography and ice thickness. In 2013, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) released their second topographic dataset of the bed under the Antarctic Ice Sheet called BEDMAP2, which incorporates twenty-five million measurements taken over the past two decades from the ground, air and space.

In Marie Byrd Land Ice Sheet//Marie Byrd Land Bedrock these maps are transscripted into painted images of the actual and potential scenario.
 
Antarctica Ice Loss
This series of prints is a result of a diagrammatic mediation of observations from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) showing how the mass of the Antarctic ice sheet has changed over the last several years thinning and rifting due to warmer oceans as s consequence of the climate changes. Satellites indicate that between 2002 and 2016, Antarctica shed approximately 90 gigatons of ice per year, causing global sea level to rise by 0.25 millimeters per year.
Pine Island Bay area by the coast of Marie Byrd land in West Antarctica is the fastest melting area in Antarctica responsible for about 25% of Antarctica’s ice loss. It’s vulnerable because most of it sits on bedrock that’s below sea level.The warming ocean is melting the floating ice sheet itself from below, causing it to collapse. If all ice is melting sea level will rise with up to 5 metres. Not only plays the sea ice a role in shaping a regional climate but it also has impact on the globe as it is reducing the ocean’s absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide and blocking ocean-atmosphere heat exchange.
 
Ping Pong Penguins

Ping Pong Penguins portrays the three kinds of penguins living in Marie Byrd Land: the Adélie Penguin, the Chinstrap Penguin, and the Emperor Penguin. The series plays with the romantic idea of penguins as cute Disney figures. In reality penguins can be quite aggressive animals.

Through metaphoric filters the series juxtaposes associations and facts.

 

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