2005 Expedition Blog - Day 10
Tuesday, 15 March 2005, 14:28pm
Our third return, Dan Harvey 2005
Our third return and we're beginning to gain some knowledge and skill about how traditional casting materials work (or don't) in the harsh environmental conditions here. It's been a learning curve of mistakes and malfunctions but through these inevitable failures other possibilities have opened up. It's often the unexpected that can be illuminating and lead you to other processes. Trying to stay true to ones location and allow it to dictate the nature of the work is not easy at minus 30, but exciting - like working on another planet.
The word frozen makes one think of something static, this is not so, even at these temperatures the glaciers are still moving, shedding their slow load. The fact is that even here in mid-winter everything is constantly on the move and changing; the solid sea buckles at the shoreline as it expands, pushing up or down and cracking - releasing liquid water that then in turn, turns solid; the light changing, shadows shifting and at night the sky flowing with the eerie green waves of the Northern lights. We were lucky to have fine days, sunshine and no wind.
The challenge of casting snow and ice-forms has led us from alginates and plaster to state of the art 3D laser scanning techniques and to criminal investigation wax. The spray wax solution won out (mainly because we could carry it in our bags) and we successfully cast polar-bear prints. A good result, though the smooth, bevelled surfaces of water-eroded ice chunks will probably require the high-definition image capture provided by digital scanning.
What does play on my mind after this incredible experience is the impact that skidoos are having on this environment. Is it true that one hour on a skidoo produces the same amount of hydrocarbons as 10,000 kilometres in a modern car with a catalytic converter? I really think that the use of these machines should be kept to a strict minimum and perhaps there should be laws banning 2 stroke engines - 4 stroke skidoos would at least be quieter and not produce such clouds of smoke.
It often comes down to speed. At one point whilst cutting ice we used a large handsaw but as evening fell and with freezing hands the option of using a chainsaw seemed to make sense. I've often used a chainsaw, but up there suddenly one questions it. Like many modern tools, which make our lives easier, they take a toll here, the quick fix, everything needs to be fast, the faster things go the less time we have to think and reflect, so we rush on half blind into an uncertain future. Eco tourism - can there really be such a thing...........?
The Arctic somehow entered into my head, like a shard of ice, not in any negative way but with a pristine beauty and clarity of a pure nature. Nature can be beautiful but also harsh- at times terrifying and unforgiving. It will always haunt me.