Contributing to the field of Antarctic arts:

Combining insights of artists and scientists to suggest a collective voice reflecting the reality of our reciprocity with Antarctica

Combining drawing and dance through animation to connect with Antarctica kinesthetically


What does Antarctica mean to its scientific community? Can animation be used to reveal poetic insights that drive Antarctic science?

I recorded Antarctic expeditioners describe their observations and experiences. I studied their graphs, diagrams, art works, and diaries. I made animations reflecting their insights into energies driving climate change, and their sense of being in Antarctica. The animations combine scientific data with improvised drawing and dance. Expeditioners commented on the animations as they were being developed. They provided validations, corrections, and further material with which to work. These animated encounters reveal a human sense of place found in Antarctic space. Animation was used to imaginatively reveal this sense of place as an energy connecting humans to energies that drive Antarctica.

What does Antarctica mean to other people? Can animation be used to reflect the responses of other people to the insights of Antarctic expeditioners?

I ran workshops with other artists. We responded to Antarctic texts through improvised dance. Evidence of heightened emotional responses can be seen in the drawings, words and gestures, recorded during these sessions. With this material I developed animations in dialogue with workshop participants. As with the expeditioners, their comments provided both validations and insights that helped the progress of the work. Through these encounters, I learnt that dance offers ways to kinesthetically connect with both physical and emotional energies suggested by the texts. Animation was combined with dance to connect others with a sense of place in Antarctica.

I made 42 animated Encounters through working with Antarctic expeditioners and other artists. These were made to reflect the insights of other people.

What does Antarctica mean to me? What energy connects me to it?

Encountering other people responding to Antarctica, I was able to identify my own sense of place there. I identified my sense of place in Antarctica as an emotional energy. Improvised drawing and dance provided ways to articulate this feeling. Not a fixed state, but a heightened sense of motion, is how I identify it. Only a time-based form can embody it: animation, the language of change and transformation.

I found energies in my life that originally drew me Antarctica: deep feelings of loss that were held in my body as frozen emotions. Like Jane Eyre, I imaginatively sought some morbid consolation in ice. I had lost my mother and my daughter and had found no way to express my grief. A part of me wanted to disappear. Encountering the physical reality of Antarctica, I found the sense of nothingness I had sought. However, I also found a sense of massive energy and renewal embodied in the ice. My connection with this feeling has been heightened through encountering the poetic expressions of Antarctica’s science community. This poetic sense of place in Antarctica led me to know more Antarctic science.

The animation, Energies, is a dance of Antarctic and human gestures. Energies provides visual and gestural metaphors for global and personal change and transformation. Scientific data gleaned from Antarctica is abstracted and combined with human marks and gestures. Together they suggest a collective voice for Antarctica.

Arctic choreographer, Siobhan Davies, had suggested I find a rhythm with which to choreograph my animation. I found this rhythm in the Milankovitch cycles. These cycles describe the natural motions of earth around the sun that define our glacial and interglacial periods. This cycle provided a meaningful framework within which to choreograph scientific data and subjective human responses. Human actions are throwing the natural patterns of change out of kilter. Containing traces of our selves within this celestial pattern suggests we are part of a bigger energy. Antarctic and human gestures imply our physical reciprocity. They suggest a collective voice signaling a time of change.