Future imperfect: Art and science combine in Antarctica

On the ice an intriguing art installation gives us a look into the world of tomorrow – and possibly inspires others towards making this future a brighter one.

For something that has taken thousands of years to grow the acceleration of glacier loss in both New Zealand and Antarctica over the last couple of decades is a startling sight. As glaciers here and around the world retract there is often a collective sense of helplessness to affect anything.

Step up Galciators, a utopian artwork addressing humanity’s part in climate change – and our responsibility to provide solutions that halt the dramatic effects of such change.

The machine is from the vision of Joaquin Fargas, an Argentinean artist and engineer renowned internationally for work addressing important environmental and ethical issues.

Fargas has created artworks incorporating biological materials and technological tools for decades now. His art has been installed both on the walls of prestigious galleries and within the wild landscapes and extreme environments throughout the world.

In Antarctica this work explores (both metaphorically and literally) the effects of climate change and what can be done to mitigate it.

The solar-powered robot ‘walks’ across the snow in Antarctica. In doing so the machine compacts and crystalises the snow into ice which, when attached to the glacier mass, helps this glacier gain ice bulk and reduce the melting. The art installation seeks to raise awareness about the ice melt and the subsequent consequences for the planet.

While it is meant as a work of art and as such won’t have a massive impact on the glacier it covers Galciators nevertheless provides a suitable challenge to the scientific community.

Throughout history societies have made incredible leaps forward when the worlds of art, science and technology are successfully fused together. Here, in one of the world’s most desolate and inhospitable places, perhaps that next leap forward will occur.

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