2005 Expedition Blog - Day 9

Date:

Monday, 14 March 2005, 17:56pm

From:

Antony Gormley and Peter Clegg

Expedition:

Art/Science 2005

Subject:
Three Made Places
Attachments: 8 images
Three Made Places within the Arctic landscape Three Made Places: (right to left) Shelter, Standing Room and Block Peter Clegg working on Standing Room Standing Room interior Peter Clegg inside Shelter Shelter at night Antony Gormley and Peter Clegg Antony Gormley and Peter Clegg working on Standing Room

Three Made Places, comprising of Block, Standing Room and Shelter, was created during the 2005 expedition by Antony Gormley and Peter Clegg.

The images picture (clockwise from top left):
1) Three Made Places within the arctic landscape
2) Three Made Places: (right to left) Shelter, Standing Room and Block
3) Standing Room interior
4) Shelter at night
5) Antony Gormley and Peter Clegg working on Standing Room
6) Antony Gormley and Peter Clegg
7) Peter Clegg inside Shelter
8) Peter Clegg working on Standing Room

Antony Gormley and Peter Clegg

Date:

Monday, 14 March 2005, 17:55pm

From:

Antony Gormley

Expedition:

Art/Science 2005

Subject:
Three Made Places
Attachments: -

Individually the block indicates (whether we take it as a double carbon unit or not) a relationship between the individual body and planetary body-mass; a substantial equivalent for one material body, the luminous void chamber is a vertical space that indicates consciousness and the shelter establishes the necessity of a collective body. Together they constitute a continuum of places that the human needs to dwell in: the physical space of the body, the imaginative space of consciousness and the collective space of fellowship.

The first is material measure, the second dedicated to the imagination (and therefore physically unused) and the third useful and used. These three places are all MADE and do not seek to describe the body but indicate its place using the Euclidian geometry of architecture in an un-inscribed arctic environment.

Antony Gormley

Date:

Friday, 18 March 2005, 3.15pm

From:

Peter Clegg

Expedition:

Art/Science 2005

Subject:
Three Made Places
Attachments: -

How do we envisage global warming? Do we think about a parched English landscape with dying beech trees? Redundant ski resorts, or continuous disastrous floods in Bangladesh? The first major ecological changes are likely to occur in polar regions, and with the shrinking of the Arctic ice cap, the islands of Svalbard are likely to experience dramatic ecological changes which will result in, amongst other things, the loss of the habitat for the polar bear that proudly occupies the top of the food chain. The group of artists and scientists on the Cape Farewell trip spent 5 days there last week at what seemed to be the very edge of the world.

And how do we envision the causes of global warming? We know that the major culprit is manmade carbon dioxide emissions and we are becoming aware of the concept of a kilogram of carbon dioxide as a measurement of global pollution from cars and buildings. But what do we understand by a kilogram of CO2? How can our minds grasp the weight of a gas? We understand a gallon of petrol, a pint of beer, a pound of sugar more because we see them as volumes than feel them as weight. Some time ago it occurred to me that it might be helpful to try to define the kilogram of CO2 as a space rather than mass. One kilogram of CO2 at atmospheric pressure occupies 0.54 of a cubic metre. That is the volume, approximately, taken up by ourselves and the space immediately around us, - it is roughly the volume occupied by a coffin, which is perhaps an appropriate symbolic unit when we are talking about the destruction of the planet. Once we have this image in our minds we can then start to relate that "coffin's worth" of CO2 to the exhaust gases of a 2 litre car travelling 10 miles, or to the emissions resulting from leaving on a 100 tungsten watt electric light bulb for a day (or a fluorescent bulb with similar light output for a week). We can look at a pound of strawberries from Israel and recognise that it costs us and the world that same coffin's worth of CO2 to bring it to London.

We can also relate this to our current global "earthshare" of manmade CO2 emissions per person, - being 4,000 of those coffins every year. In the UK each one of us is responsible for nearly 10,000 coffins and America is responsible for 20,000. In a sustainable future our emissions should be less than 2,000 coffins per year which with an irony that was discussed at great length amongst the Cape Farewell crew, was roughly the amount of CO2 that we had each expended on our return trip to Svalbard, over the course of just one week.

The only preoccupation I brought with me to Svalbard was to use this volume as part of a sculptural statement in snow and ice. Antony Gormley and myself both had an interest in constructing forms using simple blocks that we could cut from the snow, regularised and Euclidean, - quarrying a material that had been there for months rather than millennia, and creating space and volume that made simple temporary statements focused around our individual and shared preoccupations.

We discovered that we could saw quite precise blocks with a density somewhere between lightweight concrete and polystyrene, but in our building techniques we had to be very precise because the snow itself, being very dry, did not lend itself to being used as "mortar".

Our discussions and reference points over the three day period ranged from the powerful primitive architectural forms of Egypt and Peru, Mycenae and Pylos, through to our experiences of the quarries at Bath and Carrara. We created a community of forms, - a primitive block cut from the virgin snow, a vertical standing room of similar proportions again related to the human dimensions, and a snow cave with a significant approach route and threshold, again based on orthogonal cuts into the organic drift of wind blown frozen snow. We found that we developed a strong relationship with the site, a longing to be out there digging and creating, whilst also absorbing the extraordinary scaleless white landscape that surrounded us. We were blessed with brilliant sunshine that provided intensely sharp and long shadows so that brought everything that we did into a higher resolution. We were delighted with the experience of what seemed like a 10º temperature difference between the inside and outside of the snow cave. It was essentially a sensory experience, working hard and playing hard to counteract the experience of being at -27ºC, and producing work that was derived from individual preoccupations and joint collaboration and the inspiration of site and material.

The abstract body form enclosures for me had a further significance. Richard Feilden, my closest friend for 35 years (and partner for 27) was originally to have been a member of the Cape Farewell team, and I stood in for him only following his tragic accidental death over the New Year holiday. So the sarcophagus block, the first volume cut out of the snow, seemed to take on the character of an eloquent memorial to Richard. Intriguingly the whiter and lighter top layer of snow that was part of the natural formation gave it a natural 'lid'. When Antony and I collaborated on the vertical version of this volume what emerged was a made place that was much more to do with light and life rather than death. Standing sentinel over the icebound Fjord and bathed in sunlight, this enclosed void seemed even more of an appropriate place for Richard to inhabit. Our three Made Places, - Block, Standing Room and Shelter are all reflections of the human form that representing a transient statement in what may turn out to be an all-too transient landscape.

Peter Clegg

2005 expedition route map