Exercise 2 : Developing research skills

Vatnajokull ( the sound of)

This was a multimedia installation and I would describe Katie Paterson as a conceptual artist. The gallery hosted a stark white space with postcards describing the site in Iceland where Katie Patterson had installed a microphone underwater in the Vatnajokull lagoon. Vatnajokull is the largest ice cap in Iceland and one of the largest in Europe. Sounds of the melting glacier could be heard via a phone linked to the microphone.
In the gallery was a white neon sign showing the telephone number that could be dialled to connect with the microphone. The piece therefore contained elements of text : the neon sign , and the sound that could be accessed, utilising technology. As well as this, the number was made available internationally via the internet so that people could call and listen from any country in the world. Using no text other than a number made this internationally accessible. In this artwork, although the numbers were created with neon lights, they feel to me to  be more functional than an actual part of the installation.

People visiting the installation would be viewing and listening. The sounds of the melting glacier bring to life that which is invisible and for most of us very distant. And yet the sound evokes that place which we know is dying and there is a melancholy mood as we witness the time passing.  As the ice melts into the lagoon it simply changes form but that has a profound effect on the environment, causing sea levels to rise. The ice cap has been created over thousands of years and this is the first time it has melted to this extent as far as we know. Although I feel that Katie Paterson is not an environmental activist she has heightened the awareness of the melting glacier through this artwork.


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