9.01.2009

Katie Paterson: Langjökull, Snæfellsjökull, Solheimajökull



Three glacier ice records, played until they melt.
3 litres glacial meltwater, 3 litres silicon, 3 turntables [2007]



Langjökull, Snæfellsjökull, Solheimajökull, a work by artist Katie Paterson, is a project of a rare and ephemeral loveliness. Something that we transitory viewers, who unable to see/hear the work in person, can only imagine, but that is wonderfully powerful enough, that even in imagining, it pulls at the heart and mind.

The artist describes the project as:

Sound recordings from three glaciers in Iceland, pressed into three records, cast, and frozen with the meltwater from each of these glaciers, and played on three turntables until they completely melt.

The records were played once and now exist as three dvds. The turntables begin playing together, and for the first ten minutes as the needles trace their way around, the sounds from each glacier merge in and out with the sounds the ice itself creates. The needle catches on the last loop, and the records play for nearly two hours, until completely melted.
What a beautiful idea. To me, this is conceptual art at it's rarefied best.

Langjökull, Snæfellsjökull, Solheimajökull
manages to make a work about climate change, a topic often perceived as overwhelming and of massive scale, an almost visceral experience --- both intimate in feeling and grand in scope. Not much more needs to be said. Just listen to the recording here, and, truly, enjoy.

More of Paterson's thoughtful (and conceptually airtight) work can be seen here.