Voltar Shawn Brixey
Voltar is designed to clone fragments of ancient Northern Hemisphere glaciers that covered Europe 20,000 years ago during the last glacial maximum. Like freeze frames captured from an ancient time- lapse movie, Voltar’s, brilliantly colored ice crystals comment on the impact on the issue of global climate change by creating a kind of poetic time machine constructed entirely of fragile moments from Earth’s prehistoric past.
Using ultra-pure water, and modified nano-engineering techniques used in semiconductor and solar cell manufacturing, the artist creates a series of thin-section ice crystals nucleated and grown (cloned) from ancient Northern Hemisphere glacier samples. In ultra-pure water absolutely “all” impurities are removed. As a consequence, the effective freezing temperature drops from 0 °C to -41 °C. Above that temperature, ultra-pure water cannot freeze, it does not know how. By strictly controlling its environment it can be held unfrozen at sub-freezing temperatures in a state of suspended animation – indefinitely. However, by “doping” ultra-pure, ultra-cold water with a tiny fragment of ancient ice, the unfrozen water will lock on to the glacial sample and use its prehistoric pattern like a blueprint to freeze from, instantly creating a copy of the glacier fragment, sculpting new art from ancient ice.
Commissioned for Emergencias, the world premiere of The European Union’s 2012 Capital of Culture art exhibition hosted in Guimaraes, Portugal