“Ground Truth: Weather and Climate Observation and Embodied Experience in Antarctica” presented by Polli


Session Title:

  • Ecological Mediations

Presentation Title:

  • Ground Truth: Weather and Climate Observation and Embodied Experience in Antarctica




  • The Antarctic is unlike any other place on Earth: geographically, politically and culturally. March 2007 marked the launch of the fourth International Polar Year (IPY), the largest and most ambitious international effort to investigate the impact of the poles on the global environment.

    Polar regions are crucial in many ways: the white surfaces of ice perform a role in the global climate system and the poles show climate changes before they can be detected elsewhere. Thick Antarctic ice cores provide one of the best records for past climate change, and sea level rise associated with increased melting of polar ice sheets represents one of the greatest threats from human induced climate change. However, many aspects of how polar climate operates and its interaction with polar environments, ecosystems and societies are still unknown.

    Research access to the poles has traditionally been available only to scientists, limiting the breadth and depth of representations of Antarctica, but the IPY has created opportunities for exploring art and science collaborations. The author will present new sonic and visual electronic artworks developed during a December 07/January 08 two-month National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored artist’s residency in Antarctica interpreting data from the McMurdo Dry Valleys Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Project including repeated GPS measurements determining ice velocity, radar measurements and near real-time data from Automatic Weather Stations and satellite composites.

    Created while working directly alongside scientists in The Dry Valleys (77’30’S 163’00’E) on the shore of McMurdo Sound, 3500 km due south of New Zealand, the driest and largest relatively ice-free area on the Antarctic continent completely devoid of terrestrial vegetation, the resulting artworks communicate both the aesthetic power of a region where life approaches its environmental limits and the scientific importance of Antarctica to global climate.

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