Antarctic Encounters


Here animations are arranged more or less according to when they were made. This arrangement reflects the sequence of encounters with the people, pleaces and things that inspired them. By clicking on the icons and then the forwards buttons (>) the animations can be read like a story of relationships evolving.

Oceans warm, water expands. Sea levels rise. Ice falls through gusts of wind: thoughts of Antarctica.

Antarctica is a place of extremes, contrasts, and contradictions.

People are self-contained and move from place to place.

The wind clutches your breath away. Snow streams into your mouth.

The wind blows all the time. But now and again it stops.

You feel the word lives for the first time, estranged as soon as it is spoken.

Bitumen beneath fast cars conceals Gondwanan fossils.

Earth history is archived in Antarctic ice.

Oceans warm.

Diatoms die. Their skeletons sink. Layer upon layer they sequester carbon dioxide. There is more CO2 in the air than they can deal with.

Sea butterflies cannot escape the hazard of the acids.

Melting glaciers pour into the burdened sea.

Sounds like bird calls come from the ice.

Rock evokes tremendous forces.

Mountains may not be solid things. They may be bodies of cells; masses of communicating dots.

Glaciers scraped smooth the rock that plays host to Mawson station.

Antarctica registers changes in the world.

I let myself go and imagine myself a creature of the sea.

Sounds of Antarctica converge in a city.

What's going on beneath the ice?

Always: landscape electric with human desire and oceanic need to survive.

Microscopic life forms dance.

Ancient bubbles of air trapped in ice cores are measured for chemical changes.

The concentration of carbon dioxide is now higher than at any other time in the last 850,000 years.

Len Lye had this concept of the Old Brain: trapped in the core of our minds are ancient remnants of knowledge.

I am glad you are seeing the beauty in the scientific data.

Lines of motion reflect the rhythms of the Milankovitch cycles: eccentric orbit of Earth around sun; oblique tilt of Earth on its axis; precessional wobble around it.

Body motion evokes cellular memories.

'There's something about this little figure that reminds me of Antarctica.'
Yes, isn't she lovely, sailing along there.'
'She could be me,' we said, from other sides of the world.

Spiralling lines trace my dance.

A long whine comes from the ice.

I find balance.

And there is humour.

The cross is the core of our human form.

"Earth-Mother" is becoming an "Earth-Child" in our collective conscience.

What happens when our central core is thrown out of kilter?

We drift towards things we cannot posses.

What if Antarctica was in your mind?

It's all, it's all just so simple ...

with some sort of feel for it.

Once upon a time ...

we broke apart.

Yet we are here ...

and we are whole.



The story begins with a metaphor and ends with a statement. As literary features, metaphors and statements represent poetic and scientific views.

Ice falling through gusts of wind is a metaphor for early thoughts about Antarctica, which, until now, has been difficult to conceive of as a whole.

The statement, 'we are whole', refers to present knowledge, shared by many scientists and artists, that Antarctica is shaped by relationships between physical and biological energy systems.

This statement describes the Indigenous view that 'Knowledge itself is held in the relationships and connections formed with the environment that surrounds us' (Wilson, 2009, p. 69), and the scientific hypothesis, known as Gaia, that Earth is a 'stable planet made of unstable parts' (Lovelock, 2000, p. x) where 'the community of living organisms [is] in control' ( lovelock, 2009, p. 105).