an interactive installation
exhibited as part of the exhibition:
'reasonable and senseless: a technical disaster'
Surrey Art Gallery
Surrey, British Columbia
May 21- July 10, 2005

MELT is an interactive video installation that explores the potential '‘environmental disaster’ of global warming and more specifically the climate and environmental changes that have already taken place in the western Canadian Arctic region. A recent report from the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment shows this region to have the highest degree of weather change on the planet, causing the shrinkage of sea ice which threatens wildlife from walruses to polar bears. Melt-water from disappearing glaciers is disrupting ocean currents that govern climate around the world.

MELT has three main components: a video loop composed of archived imagery taken from the RADARSAT, a remote-sensing satellite that uses radar to take images useful for monitoring environmental and climate change processes; a glass vitrine housing a miniature arctic diorama, icamera and small monitor; and a wall projection of a time-lapse photography piece. The gallery participant, viewing the model in the vitrine, is recorded and mixed into the RADARSAT imagery. When projected onto the tech lab floor participants experience a "satellites-eye” perspective that temporarily merges their likeness into the topography. Some of the images sequentially illustrate the cracking and melting of the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, the largest ice cap in the arctic. A tragic consequences of the ice shelf’s rupture was the loss of all the freshwater from the northern hemisphere’s largest epishelf lake which contained a unique biological community, consisting of both freshwater and marine species of plankton.

MELT was created through the generous support of Video In Studios and the Toronto Arts Council. Special thanks to David Jhave Johnston and Kenneth Newby for their technical assistance and RADARSAT International under licence from Canadian Centre for Remote Sensing for permission to use the satellite images. Special thanks to Donna Szoke.

Documentation: Michael Alstad & Donna Szoke


MELT at Eastern Edge

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