You’ve seen the pictures. The time lapses of glaciers shrinking into patchworks of white, the videos of ice crumbling into the ocean. But the Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson wants you to really see how quickly the ice is melting — and to do so, he and a Greenlandic geologist fished 112 tons of ice out of a Greenland fjord and shipped it to Copenhagen.
The project is called Ice Watch, and it’s the culmination of months of work between Eliasson’s team and Minik Rosing, a noted geologist whose name you might know from his discovery of the oldest living evidence of photosynthesis on Earth. It’s an unlikely partnership on paper, but both the artist and scientist have a common goal: To show people exactly how crucial climate change is. And to do so, they have undertaken what you could discribe as a single, monumental act of data visualisation.
It all began in a fjord off of Nuuk, the 16,000-person capital of Greenland. There, using what look like simple straps and levers, a team managed to fish twelve blocks of ice out of the frigid waters — totaling some 112 tons of ice-blue freeze.
They were then transported (GIF), seemingly via cargo containers, the 3,000-plus Kilometres to Copenhagen, where they will be arranged as the twelve points of a clock face in the city’s main town square.
And then, probably over the course of about three days, they will melt.
Each block has been cut (GIF) into a very specific size: The equivalent of the amount of ice that melts every hundredth of a second, at current rates. Rates that are, of course, increasing steadily. “Ice Watch makes the climate challenges we are facing tangible,” Eliasson said in a press statement. “I hope that people will touch the inland ice on City Hall Square and be touched by it. “
The installation, if you can call it that — it seems so much bigger — will be unveiled in Copenhagen on Sunday at 2pm. We’ll have pictures of the finished product, and if you’re nearby, here’s more information.