Australian Antarctic Division
Australia Council for the Arts
Creative Victoria
National Gallery of Victoria
Image–Philip Samartzis

Antarctica and its surrounding ocean are dominated by the presence of snow and ice, which, while responsive to local climate patterns and variations also influences global climate systems. About 98% of the Antarctic continent is covered by a sheet of ice averaging 1.6 kilometres thick comprising 90% of the world’s ice and 70% of its fresh water. Icebergs are formed from an accumulation of snow falling on the continental ice sheet over millennia. As the compressed ice sheet flows radially under gravity towards the coast, it spills away from glaciers or ice shelves. After calving, it rapidly begins an evanescent process of erosion that leads to the formation of icebergs with irregular sizes and appearances, eventually decaying into smaller fragments. Sea ice is a different type of ice caused by seawater freezing and consists of assorted forms and densities at various stages of development. The majority of sea ice occurs in a wide band around the continent where diverse conditions induce ice floes of various sizes, ages, thicknesses and concentrations. Wind and currents make this ice highly mobile, while fluctuations in air temperature modifies its morphology leading to a significant amount of shattering and deformation. The sounds voiced by Antarctica’s ice shelves, glaciers, icebergs and sea ice contests one of the great misconceptions about the continent. One based on the perception that it is a place delimited by a rigid and mute set of conditions. Yet concealed within the frozen veil of ice is a startling aggregation of sound to demonstrate how remarkably protean the the continent actually is.

Originally presented in collaboration with Roland Snooks at NGV Triennial Extra in 2018.

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