Animation: Sea ice cycles

The animation, Turning cycle, contributes to conversations people are having about the value of looking to Antarctica for knowing the future of life on Earth.

My aim is to animate Antarctica through more eyes than my own, to offer different ways of thinking about it.

Here are some questions you may consider responding to, to contribute your voice to this project:

How does this animation work towards achieving my aim?

What can you find in it that you can relate to?

Does it make you think differently about Antarctica, and if so, how?

How does the website work overall towards achieving this aim?

What can you suggest I do to further this aim?


13 Replies to “Animation: Sea ice cycles”

  1. I love your animations.

    I often don’t see the meaning intellectually in what you do but I feel its message somehow. As usual I love the grace in the movement. And the cyclical repetitions suggesting renewal.

    Then I went back to the earlier ones… they are wonderful – so full of life and purpose. The pulsing rhythm suggests the inevitability of the passage of time… and the urgency… of our time being now…

  2. The images in glass, Perspex and cloth are eerily beautiful. Personally I needed the short explanatory text to bring the polar significance into focus – but that is no problem or implied criticism. I would like to have heard the sound too. This work seems to me to be closely linked to the other works on the site – using the body and its shapes and rhythms, and placing these within the shapes and rhythms of the polar mass. The colours too are subtle and seductive, and take the viewer into an underwater space which I feel promises hope while warning of despair.

  3. It is encouraging to know that the animations connect with other people’s experiences, and interesting to know about the different ways people make those connections.

    It is interesting to read the different words people use to describe similar responses some have to the animations.

    An artist-researcher rang today with some comments. Particularly useful was hearing that she found my site confusing.

    I am planning a new Home Page with only two buttons: About and Animation.

    Animation will take you to different ways of looking at the animations, through the Thesaurus, and a new Gallery of animations with captions, brief background information (‘i’ ), and Essays about how they came to be. I have an idea for a Machine for looking at the animations through different lenses (or filters). In preparation for this I am working out a taxonomy, so I can attach attributes to each file.

    About will take you to everything else (Log, Objects etc.).

    Another suggestion was to make it clear, with more prominent labeling, that the animations are my work.

    After watching the animation, Orientation, she suggested I am mapping body motion in space, and is sending literature on ‘spatial mapping through language’.

    In some ways I relate what I I’m doing with Ross Gibson’s work, Conversations 9Sydney Biennale 2008) in that I am having dialogues. My dialogues are with Antarctica, and with others who connect with it. I trace these dialogues with animation.

    Being so close to this work now, it really helps to see it through the eyes of others.

  4. Hi Lisa

    I found this really beautiful. Resonances for me of womb, embryo and thus of Gondwanaland being the source of earthly life. Pulsing of blood, passing of breath as the ice pumps in and out with the seasons – and of course then suggestions of the changes of ice behaviour in recent times as sympton of something unwell with this body of ours, of earth, something amiss in the air. Is it Rupert’s Shakahachi? and it’s beautiful sound too supporting this strong connection of breath, life, fragility, resilience…. The body spinning on its own centre, like the globe – telling me of the closedness of this system in which we all live – this is all we have, take care! Spinning like a vortex, drawing focus to itself, as you and this work you are making, and the work of all who contribute draws focus to Antarctica, and hopefully challenges us to appreciate its power and what it is telling us. Thanks.

  5. body of ice surrounding Antarctica is moving in and out
    the rocks beneath the ice are sleeping
    an embryo or a woman sleeping
    the breath is rapid
    movement is expansive
    there is change
    my body recognises the message
    the cells of my body know what this image speaks
    this feels like transistion before the birth
    the breathing is rapid out of controil
    the inner changes are tipping the scales from pregnancy to birth

    the image disturbs me, wakes me up,
    takes my eyes off my busy schedule
    I miss, wish for, hope for a happy deep sleep of days past wih only light easy breathing movement. Change is in the air, my body cells know…

  6. How does this animation work towards achieving my aim?

    Perhaps only you can answer that one! *You* know what you are aiming for – are *you* satisfied with what you have achieved? You do speak of it as a dialogue; really, so far it is only a ‘statement’ and a ‘response’ I think; perhaps you might somehow continue the interaction with Lorraine to achieve a true dialogue in the sense of a sustained interaction, and thus develop your animation through a series of stages?

    What can you find in it that you can relate to?

    I think that the phases of freezing and melting are a great ‘background’ to your work. Since the explorer I am working on had his plans to be first to the Pole ruined by his being down there just as the next cycle of freezing was starting I find that part of the animation particularly interesting. Is there not something suggestive of cycles of fertility you could draw out of that? That explorers, who
    were all men in the Heroic Era of Antarctic Exploration, were allowed into the womb of the continent only at certain times in the cycle? That’s a bit facile, but I am sure you could develop something along those lines in your animation without getting too pornographic! Hahaha! Or it might be better to think of the Antarctic as a great pulsing heart, with the explorers as suitors trying to win their way into the Heart of the Antarctic. That’s a prettier, more romantic notion! Unless you see Man’s intrusion into the ice as a form of rape, rather than one of fertilisation. I’m sure the image could be taken either way, depending on your world-view.

    Does it make you think differently about Antarctica, and if so, how?

    God, now that I’ve started thinking along the lines suggested above, YES! Maybe I had better clean up my thinking …
    And maybe that’s as far as I had better go today!
    Good luck Lisa!

    Just had another wierd thought!
    Isn’t there something almost ‘Aida-ish’ about the Antarctic?
    The icily cold princess, killing off would-be lovers, until one finally finds the way into her heart?
    Or maybe it’s more Tristan and Isolde …
    Of course, when I say Aida, I mean Turandot!!!!

  7. I certainly take your point, Ben, that for a ‘true’ dialogue to satisfy, it needs to be sustained – to lead you along a line of thought. But what is a dialogue? I think of these animations more as gestures, or responses, as you say. Like a drawing made in response to something seen, or felt, of something that impressed my eye, a fleeting moment captured.

    Perhaps I use the word ‘dialogue’ in way Romantic poets did, who had dialogues with landscapes. I will have to stop that immediately, having just purged all reference to landscape when writing about Antarctica. So this must go too. Landscape is a European concept that doesn’t even work in an Australian context. And now that most of the trees in Europe have been chopped down, there are no landscapes. Well, not in the in the original sense.

    There’s an expectation that animators are all wanting to tell you a story. And yet some of us are more like painters, drawing moving images, to draw people into a sense of something, like the natural forces in nature, for example, or how a cat somersaults, falling from a window. Norman McLaren made slow-mo time-lapse hand-drawn film in which a landscape is drawn before your eyes. His ‘story’ is a simple sun rise. You can read lots of meanings into that: new life, fresh starts…. My ‘story’ is Antarctic sea ice cycling through a year. For me it’s like human breath, and that reading connects me with Antarctica in a bodily sense, which was what I was after. I’m working on the assumption that people will identify on some physical level with Antarctica’s rhythms, empathizing bodily in different ways. Which some have.

    You have read all kinds of wonderful meanings into the animation! You’ve helped me understand how you can think and feel about Antarctica, given a certain gesture to respond to.

    But now I must write a line of thought – my written thesis – of which these animations will form a part – arguing that animation can be used to connect objective observations of Antarctica with subjective feelings some express about it. Bit of a job, hey? There will be six Essays that tell the story of how six animations evolved, with material that came from conversations between artists and scientists. Tricky.

    Thanks for your insightful reading of the animation, and your response. You have given me food for further thought, and self examination.

  8. Hello Lisa, the animations are affecting, elegant and beautiful and give me a strong indication of what I can only imagine being the emotional atmosphere of Antarctica. The information and text are provocative and helpful in understanding the challenges and the natural course that the planet is on. I am interested in discussion that includes human activity in nature rather than nature/ natural being different or separate to human activity. The website works really well, though I’d perefer the text a bit further up the screen, or even at the top. The figurative work in the animation is exceptional. You have done an enormous amount of work here and it is a fine example of using animation to connect people to the Antarctic.

  9. I hope that I am not out of line and over critical but the animation doesn’t work for me (ie turning cycle) on a number of levels. I appreciate what you are attempting to do it but I think that the animation “estranged” is more on track with your “personal vision”.

    I think that turning cycle is too didactic and doesn’t really give me a new
    view of antarctica. After seeing the the original work as hanging images of
    Lorraine Beaulieu I think that it loses even more authenticty that is so
    strong in “estranged”. The images are simplistic and too me, ‘corny’ when
    antarctica morphs into what I assume is a figure of a women.

    ‘Estranged’ is much, much stronger from many points of view. New vision of data that you have gathered, an elegance of line and animation, a congruence of sound and vision. It holds the mystery of the continent in its ephemeral nature, all you are trying to represent and for me provides a key to your work with movement which is sub-text to a lot of this work.

    I have had another look at the animation re: your comments via email ie you have added more to it and it is beginning to work because you have overlaid your aesthetic at the end. There is a bit of disjunction though stylistically which is some thing you may want or not???.

    Just my 2cents worth.

  10. Haydn Washington Says:

    From: “haydn washington”
    To: “‘Lisa Roberts'” Subject: RE: Your thesis
    Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2008 23:20:44 +1100

    Hi! Interesting! I loved the flute and the rotation of the figure. I must admit I also really loved the pulsing of the ice, like a heart beating. The ice heart of the south. It reminds me of Howard Odum’s book ‘A prosperous way down’ in terms of his explanation that many things in nature go through pulsation cycles.

    I liked the bird, because it surprised me a bit. Sort of like how Bill Viola surprises you with his projections. That moment of recognition of what it is is always special. You know at first I thought of an elephant in terms the Antarctic outline = the trunk being the long peninsula. Then later I thought of a rhinoceros. The bird reminded me of a crane, maybe a Sarus Crane? Then I wondered about a cormorant?

    What exactly is it?

    Not sure how intelligent this is! Still its a heartfelt response.

    Hi – its like the giraffe in the mass of dots. Once you know what to look for … now I can see the woman! Or rather person of non-specific gender! I like the bird figure animation – the dancing triangles.

    Going back to your initial email … giving voice to Antarctica. One of my favourite sayings is ‘if you listen you will learn’. All places have a voice, if we can just shut up enough to listen, and you can certainly have dialogue with place. In my wilderness journal in my thesis, I remember writing of a dialogue i had with Mt Denali in Alaska. We don’t always understand the voices at the time of course. So often we are brash and thoughtless. I was just thinking the other day about two times when a huge python barred my way and glared at me.

    Clearly I wasn’t meant to go that way (though i did … to my cost both times). I think I have learned that lesson. Other times it can be hard to know what is being said. I have gone to my cliff and to Wollemi many times to ask questions. Sometimes you get an answer … sometimes you don’t understand. In a way you need to ‘channel’ a place, like perhaps Barry Lopez in Arctic Dreams (though I haven’t read it all) or Thoreau on Walden. It is essentially a task of empathy, of openness, and quite a humbling feeling when you get it right. For me … I needed to be a human voice for Wollemi.

    And so often when people write about Australia, the only voices they hear are human voices, even if sometimes Aboriginal ones. Yet Australia clearly had voices before humans came, and they are here still, now intertwined with human voices.

    Antarctica clearly has voices too … I hope they speak through you!

    Cheers HAydn

    From: “haydn washington”
    To: “‘Lisa Roberts'” Subject: RE: Your thesis
    Date: Wed, 29 Oct 2008 23:11:33 +1100

    Hi – yes feel free to quote my words of wisdom! Still looks more like a bird to me! Maybe see you amongst the hordes at Walk against Warming. Cheers


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Posted on Friday, October 17th, 2008