The Color Of Ice carries viewers on a journey of the imagination, traveling through over 200,000 years of Earth's past and between both poles. Along the way, logic and emotion, utility and beauty, science and art, and even space and time merge to one in an unexpected world of ice. The photographs of The Color Of Ice demonstrate how a seemingly mundane object of the natural world cedes to the marvelous and the unpredictable when viewed in a new light. And yet with every light a shadow is cast, and we are reminded that the limitless bounds of the imagination remain in immutable ways tethered to a fragile physical world.
As a part of our physical world, ice – like photography – has the remarkable ability to stop time. Researchers have tapped into this phenomenon by drilling ice cores deep into the polar ice caps. Layer by layer, air bubbles trapped within the ice yield clues about Earth's past climates. This project introduces never-before-seen photographs of ancient polar ice taken at an unprecedented level of scale and detail.
The Color Of Ice presents paired photographs that travel through time and in which the intricate cracked textures of ancient ice captured in black and white yield to an unlikely explosion of pattern and color under polarized light. A product of science, this special light helps pinpoint the location of trapped air bubbles, while offering insights into patterns of glacial flow. Yet the resulting ice crystal shapes and colors bear no scientific significance or value, and thus the cold logic and utility of science melts into the beautiful and the sublime.
Mimicking the powerful forces of glaciers that literally capture and compress time within their ice, two final images merge multiple color photographs from this project into one, thereby capturing and compressing over 200,000 years into single visual representations, erasing the very boundaries of space and time itself.
Click on the first photograph below to embark upon a guided journey into the heart of Earth’s polar ice caps.
All photographs were taken at the National Science Foundation Ice Core Facility in Denver, Colorado, in 2018. In March and April of 2019 Colorado State University’s Gregory Allicar Museum of Art hosted the first exhibit of this work in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the university’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability. This body of work is now on permanent exhibit at the Ice Core Facility. Read about the exhibit in this article published in the Boulder Weekly in Boulder, Colorado, in May 2019.
I would like to thank the many researchers whose work under extreme conditions in the polar regions made this project possible. I would also like to extend a special thanks to the staff of the National Science Foundation Ice Core Facility for so graciously opening their doors to me. I view the facility as one of our nation’s greatest – and yet possibly least recognized – national treasures.