Institute of Landscape Architecture – Melting Landscapes

ILA melting landscapes

The mass balance of a glacier determines whether it grows down-valley or recedes back towards the mountains, depending on the relative amount of (winter) snow accumulation and (summer) ablation (melt). As land observation satellites show, most glaciers across the world are in negative mass balance and receding due to global warming. Students at the Institute of Landscape Architecture (directed by Christophe Girot) document one such Alpine glacier, using sight and sound observations to archive these melting landscapes. An LP size black and white book, with glacier-ice coloured vinyl stored inside the back cover, presents photographic documentation of winter and summer seasons on the Morteratsch Glacier (Switzerland). The seasonal approach is used for the sounds too – Side A recorded in winter, Side B summer. Accumulation processes are recorded, Freezing is the sound of a contact microphone being frozen into the glacier, snow falling is picked up by a buried hydrophone in Accumulation. We hear the Drone of the moving glacier and Wind in a snowstorm across the glacier. Ablation on the glacier is recorded by a hydrophone in a large melt pond, a technique used also for Pond I and Pond II. Meltwater starting its journey to the sea is presented in River, recorded by an omnimicrophone, and Sand where a hydrophone is placed beneath a boulder at the river bed. The ILA presents us with a release that crosses the boundaries of science, sound art and education on geomorphology and climate change.


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