Ian Potter Moving Image Support 1

Saturn’s Breath Ice Memories

single screen presentation of multiscreen work in progress, 2019-2020

Part of a multistranded line of enquiry centred on Quelccaya glaciated icecap, in the Peruvian Andes. The wider project is about circulation, across a series of meanings.

The research maps at a molecular level the silver in Australia’s first local colonial coin, Lachlan Macquarie’s ‘holey dollar’. The coins, made by counterpunching Spanish silver dollars, contained silver from the colonial silver mine, Potosí (Bolivia), the largest silver mine in history. Lead dust with a unique isotopic fingerprint from the Potosí  mineral load has been detected in icecore samples from Quelccaya by glacierologists researching global warming. The ice is a time capsule of environmental contamination, and Quelccayan ice cores trace in a vertical ice column the economic and extractive output from the mine, mapping through snow and ice the rise and fall of the Spanish empire.

In SATURNS BREATH flags bearing an image of an oversized galena crystal (lead/silver/zinc; the form mined in Potosi) were raised over the Quelccaya ice cap by men from the region, in an act of recognition of the molecular level territorialisation. These flags act as standards for the emergent anthropogenic landscape- lead over ice, extraction over precipitation.

This glacier is located halfway between the poles and is an important research site for climate change data. It is melting rapidly and predicted to be gone within 50 years. Icecore samples taken from Quelccaya are stored in research institutions, including the Centre for Ice and Climate Science, Copenhagen, the laboratory where the lead data from the Quelccaya ice cores was analysed for lead impurities.

When the glacier melts these institutions will hold the last remaining molecular memories of Quelccaya. Ice Memories, the 2nd chapter of this video, considers the sites of beginnings and ends, of water and ice, of libraries and collections. (Here a single-screen presentation of a multiscreen work.)

The Quelccaya phase of this project was enabled and supported by Lima-based Independent Arts Organisation, HAWAPI . With thanks to the Fauvette Loureiro Travelling Scholarship.

For research background see:HERE

Above: Sound of wind through the crystaline forest

Manifestation of an oversized galena crystal at a propositional point between mineral and vegetable, tree and rock