The figures in this piece represent Ernest Shackleton and his Antarctic crew from the 1907-09 ‘Nimrod’ Expedition who produced the letterpress-printed Aurora Australis
book, fashioning its wooden covers from recycled provision cases.
Each page of the triptych is 11.75″ high x 10.25″ wide, created in graphite and cut
paper. The set is currently on exhibit in Cutters/Cork, the latest in the Cutters series of international contemporary collage exhibitions curated by James Gallagher. The show is
up through March 12 at West Cork Arts Centre in County Cork, Ireland.
These days, all metal discards in Antarctica are collected, sorted, and shipped back to the States for recycling or re-use. U.S. research station residents dutifully sort their metal into three categories to facilitate the process: aluminum (mostly beverage cans), light metal (less than 1/4″ thick), and heavy metal (over 1/4″ thick). Aluminum and light metals are crushed into bales at McMurdo’s Waste Barn, while the heavy stock is loose-loaded onto a ship in big flatrack containers.
These protocols were put in place through the Antarctic Conservation Act of 1991 whose waste management regulations successfully reduced the impact of science research on the continent. I hope to convey the importance of these practices and show how Antarctica can be a model for managing waste in other environments by re-using these Antarctic discards in my artwork.
Littering is no longer permitted in Antarctica, so stray objects in the field are rare and tend to be decades old. The rare can is still of concern however, as aging metals disperse particles into the ecosystem. Their impact is particularly worrisome in sensitive biological environments such as the Dry Valleys where this can was found.
This week I’m posting more metal vessels to the blog’s Waste Stream Reclamation category where I catalog the discards I collected in Antarctica for use in my artwork.
Like many of my favorite finds, today’s item and the next two owe their transformed beauty to the continent’s punishing environment where they languished for decades.
This is an exceptionally tortured trio of cans, thoroughly stripped of labels by the
elements, rendering them Antarctica’s brand alone.
Pictured is an ocean organism I imagine marine biologists finding in the icy depths some day. But in addition to continually discovering many new sea floor communities, scientists are also studying ways in which known ones are changing. One such effort is ICE AGED (Investigating Change in Ecology in Antarctica by Gizmologists, Educators and Divers), run by the Benthic Ecology Lab at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, the folks behind SCINI mentioned a couple blog posts ago.
The ICE AGED team has returned to an Antarctic experiment site established in the 1960s, a time considered as the dawn of Antarctic benthic research. Comparing original data with the present state of marine life on abandoned equipment is presenting researchers with a unique opportunity to assess nearly five decades of changes in the local ecosystem. One of those researchers is Paul Dayton, now a 71-year-old professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography who will be revisiting the very cages and floats he secured to the seafloor as a youth. Here’s wishing Paul and the team success in their research under the ice, and perhaps the discovery of a new organism or two in the process. Read their journals here.
I’ve been working more fabric into the sketchbook for texture, new color, and to maintain the project’s use of found material. It also works to reference the ubiquity of flags (and shreds thereof) in Antarctica.
The shapes here allude to the discovery of many new sea life species each year. There are more discoveries to come as 99% of the Antarctic seafloor remains to be explored.
This Long View sketchbook page takes Antarctic diving as its theme. At coastal bases around the continent, diving plays a role in underwater scientific research, construction, salvage work, and environmental cleanup.
In McMurdo Sound, science divers have been finding new sea life species for decades. They’re now also studying long term ecological change in seafloor communities by deploying remotely operated vehicles beneath the frozen ocean surface.
One such vehicle is SCINI run by the Benthic Ecology Lab at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. My friend Henry Kaiser, pictured in the sketchbook and photos above, documents the underwater robot in a short but stunning video found here.
Divers at the University of British Columbia recently launched a similar probe to study the accelerated shrinkage of Antarctic ice shelves. Their craft, named UBC-Gavia, navigates unchartered ocean environments to collect data necessary to studying the dynamic between sea water and glacier tongues. Read more about the project here.
Antarctic divers are a hard-working bunch who deal with extreme and challenging conditions. But the rewards are extraordinary. One is clearly scientific discovery. Another is creative inspiration, as Henry aptly demonstrates in this video. Enjoy.
This is the studio in October light as photographed by Lili Ong. I’m working on more
pieces for my Antarctic research station series at the moment. The next couple will
focus on Chinese bases, inspired by our summer visit to Shanghai’s Polar Research
Institute of China.
This vessel is one of my favorite Antarctic discards for its shape, color, material and texture. It’s also among the most mysterious. Any labels and markings are long gone, leaving only a threaded opening as a clue to its past life. I’ll venture to guess that it
was a fuel bottle, a standard piece of equipment past and present for use with liquid-
fuel stoves or motorized apparatus in the field.
This decades-old item was found at Marble Point by camp manager “Crunch” Noring
who’s contributed many other exquisite items to this project. Thank you once again sir!
This artfully rusted Cadbury tin was found and donated to the Long View Project by
Rae Spain, camp manager at Lake Hoare in Antarctica’s Dry Valleys. No identifying
marks remain apart from the script logo on the lid, but the artifact’s shape and size suggest it to be a can of Bourne-Vita, Cadbury’s malted drink product introduced
I consider it something of a companion piece to Sifta Sam, as both are Dry Valleys
discards made in England circa 1940s-50s. I’ll speculate that they both belonged
to the same research party, perhaps an early incarnation of the British Antarctic
Survey which has been the UK’s national Antarctic operator for over 60 years.
Intriguing also is the container’s hidden contents which rolls around with a dull thud.
I was briefly tempted to break the tape between lid and can to reveal the mystery,
but thoughts of encountering a congealed malt (or is it mold?) ball made me
reconsider. At least for now.