file under: #glaciers #scientific #water #Iceland #ice
Fissure: An Intimate Portrait of Icelandic Ice
Fissures are the dark, deep, narrow openings within a body, a separation of substance that was once an integrated whole. These clefts expose intimate, subterranean layers previously concealed from view, which promise to reveal secret interiors and greater truths within. Fissures are also schisms, ruptures that divide wholes into parts, and often result in unalterable separations. I chose this concept for all of its anatomical, geological and political connotations as way to explore the inherent complexities within masses of glacial ice.
Glaciers have flourished in Iceland’s relatively young volcanic landscape. Sub-glacial eruptions bring ancient, molten material from deep inside the earth to the glacial surfaces, rearranging landscape and creating new glacial architecture. Far from the cerulean hues of glacial ice around the globe, Iceland’s glaciers are full of grit and grime from these successive eruptions. Fissures in the ice masses typically mark the beginning of a separation—the calving of glacial chunks into glacial lakes, which eventually float down icy rivers to end up in the sea, glassy fragments of their former selves.
My images of Icelandic glaciers are also a metaphor of anatomy and decay. The dirt cones left behind by glacial melt, aged counterparts of the gravelly striations visible within clefts, mimic human anatomy in their shape. Both the fissures and the cones reveal a gritty beauty and fragility as the glaciers retreat, and more of their interiors begin to decompose.
Part of my intent with this series is to challenge the perception that glaciers are remote, irrelevant, or a remnant curiosity from a distant ice age. My photographs are more akin to character studies—portraits of glaciers—that capture elements of both their formation and their decay. The fissures pictured in the work also act as a metaphor for the schisms and contradictions within human thought and action related to climate change.
These 75x100cm images are printed on a Japanese paper selected for its ability to capture subtle shifts in line and color, and convey both texture and the play of light. This particular paper gives dimensionality to the photographs, and transforms what might have been overly ‘clean’ digital images into warm and tactile objects more commonly associated with printmaking. The prints are further transformed into three-dimensional objects in the form of limited-edition, monumental handmade artist books, which allow the viewer to feel each page as it is turned, and engage more closely with the work.