Artist Katie Paterson produced a work that makes global warming tangible in a beautiful sensory way. She invites her audience to phone live to the Vatnajökull glacier in Iceland (the largest in Europe) and listen to its death growls while it slowly melts away. The phone is connected to a microphone which is sinked in a lagoon and relays splashing water and ice breaking off.
Forget about long-distance fees and close your eyes for a moment when you get through to the glacier. Picture yourself in a cavern and listen to the sound of melting ice and streaming water. As such, the work transports you directly to the actual site, and creates awareness by making global warming a private and live experience. Working with sound rather than, for instance, live video stream is crucial in this matter. Dramatic video footage of melting icecaps are stored in the collective mind and their impact has eroded. Sound is the opposite of this collective image; it’s personal and above all intimate.
Paterson accurately describes the paradox between the beauty and the tragedy of the work:
“This lagoon is a graveyard of glaciers. In a way there is something heartbreaking about this, knowing that you are listening to something magnificent being destroyed – but it is also very beautiful, a celebration of nature.”
Dial +44 (0) 7758 225698 to hear the glacier live. It’s a mobile phone! So beware of long-distance fees. Because it is a single line, Paterson advices to call in the wee hours of the day.