by Red Cell
British environmental artist Katie Paterson has created one of the most engaging works of impermanence that I know of in recent years. Langjökull, Snæfellsjökull, Solheimajökull is a work from 2007 that captures the sound of melting glaciers on three LPs fashioned from ice using the very glacier waters from which she took the sound. The three LPs were then played simultaneously as they melted over the course of two hours, the stylus staying in a locked groove at the end of the LP after the initial run through. You can listen to an excerpt from langjökull at her website here. These pressings were only played once and have been documented on three DVDs which were then played in loops for the exhibition.
Glacial field recordings have been popping up a lot in the last few years for obvious reasons. Works by Jacob Kirkegard, Christian Müller, Vera Schlindwein, Alfons Eckstaller and Heinrich Miller have all explored this global phenomenon. But, I believe that this work stands alone as making both form and function work seamlessly together to heighten the spectators experience.
In the artist’s words:
“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.”
Thanx to Pauline Oliveros for the word on this!