The rate of melting ice is accelerating around the world. Phase Change is an immersive art installation that explores sea level rise through mixed reality. The project features a large wall mural and a digital model of polar ice. Viewers can explore the place where water meets ice through a custom app and can track the rate of melting ice over the course of the installation.
Arctic ice is melting six times faster than it did in the 1980s, and while in that span of time sea levels have risen half an inch, Antarctic ice sheets could contribute to multi-meter sea-level rise this century. In the past decade, 278 billion tons of ice have melted away from Antarctica per year. The edges of ice shelves slowly shed water until creeping fissures cause their sudden collapse, allowing glaciers to flow freely into the ocean and sending icebergs floating into the sea.
Phase Change is a 1:1 visualization of a disappearing iceberg. Icebergs have been recorded melting at rates between 0.3 and 1.2 meters per day from their sides and bottoms. This virtual iceberg, represented in augmented reality, begins melting in real-time at the opening of the exhibit on 2019-06-19 at 19:00 at the median loss rate. The static image is used as a datum for referencing the rate of change of the iceberg as it melts.
The installation is created by PLACE, an interdisciplinary research group that explores the socio-spatial implications of XR through art, design & education, led by Marisha Farnsworth and Anastasia Victor, in collaboration with John Faichney.