Project Pressure Exhibition Explores Climate Change and Glaciers

Project Pressure, a charity founded in 2008, seeks to provoke action to confront climate change by organizing exhibitions that combine photography and science, specifically focused on the world’s glaciers.   

The group’s latest installation of artwork is titled “Meltdown. A Visualization of Climate Change by Project Pressure” and is on display until September 1st at the Natural History Museum, Vienna. The exhibit features projects by renowned artists, such as architecture and landscape photographer Simon Norfolk, who have traveled around the world to photograph some of the planet’s most vulnerable environments and landscapes. The artists worked with scientists from a wide array of backgrounds to ensure accuracy. 

Norfolk uses fire lines to map the past front of the Lewis Glacier on Mt Kenya (Source: Natural History Museum, Vienna)

Glaciers retreat and glacier mass loss is a readily apparent symptom of the impacts of climate change. Mass loss from glaciers, unlike other weather and climate events, can be directly attributed to warming. All around the world, glaciers are visibly shrinking, prompting local residents, elected officials, academics, prominent cultural figures, and climate activists to raise the alarm about the rapidly deteriorating state of the world’s glaciers. 

The exhibition is divided into three sections, the first of which is titled “The Importance of Glaciers,” which includes work from artist Peter Funch, a Danish photographer who captures landscapes, people, and portraits . Funch uses postcards of images of glaciers in America to portray recession over the years, giving the effect of old photographs by using RGB tricolor separation, a technique invented in the 19th century. 

View this post on Instagram

Interview with artist Peter Funch about the upcoming When Records Melt exhibition. Read the full story @ unseenamsterdam.com – “The project features photographs taken during my multiple trips to the Northern Cascade Mountain Range in between 2014 to 2016. The photographs are contemporary recreations of vintage Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier postcards found on Ebay and such. Using these ephemera, maps, and satellite images I was able to locate positions where the original postcard images were made. Consequently I re-captured the mountain’s glaciers from the same positions to create comparative juxtapositions of then and now. As an aesthetic point of departure, I’ve used RGB-tricolour separation, a technique invented in the 19th century during the Industrial Revolution. RGB-tricolour separation is a process that uses red, green, and blue filters to make three monochrome images, which are then combined to make a single full-color image. However the current glacial recession predates the use of color photography: the recession dates to 1850, while tricolour projection became the standard in the following decade. With this timeline in mind, we can say that the photographic representation of glaciers has always included it as a subject in a state of decline and regression. The use of RGB-tricolour separation incites a dialogue on the influence of mankind on nature. I see it as our blindness to the consequences we as society are creating in our desire to control nature.” – #climatechange #photography #art #peterfunch #glacier #projectpressure #unseenamsterdam #whenrecordsmelt

A post shared by Project Pressure (@projectpressure) on

Various urgent subjects are explored in the second section of the exhibition, “Current Issues. This includes the impacts of climate change and glacier loss on populations, such as the over one billion people dependent on the Himalayas for water. 

The final section of the exhibit, “Meltdown Consequences,” surprises audience with peculiar examples of the impacts of climate change. This section includes work by artists Norfolk + Thymann, picturing part of the Rhone glacier in Switzerland covered by geo-thermal cloth to prevent further melting. This striking image reflects the desperate attempt by local people in trying to conserve the critical water resources that glaciers provide and that they heavily depend on.  

Norfolk + Thymann present an unusual attempt to prevent melting at Rhone glacier (Source: MELTDOWN Press Release)

Project Pressure artist Toby Smith is an environmental photographer whose project “Heavens and Earth on Aragat” is currently being exhibited as part of Meltdown. Smith told GlacierHub about the project and shared his experience during his time on Mount Aragats, the highest point in Armenia. The glacier feeds into a network of tributaries, providing water to surrounding provinces.

Smith said that initial research conducted for the project showed Mount Aragat was under major threat from climate change, experiencing dwindling ice cover and rapid decrease in glacial surface area over time. “The glacial cover has been disappearing on account of the insufficient snowfall, changes in rainfall patterns, and critically an increase in annual mean air temperatures,” he said. 

Glaciation at this snowfield has been retreating due to increased temperatures and reduced snowfall (Source: Toby Smith/Project Pressure)

One of Smith’s main goals was to understand the different human relations with glacier flow. He was able to connect with people from remote villages across provinces and learn how changes on the mountain affected their lives. Unfortunately this change in hydrology has negatively impacted the livelihoods and economies of these local communities. Although the primary focus is to document landscapes, Smith said he deliberately focused on also exhibiting a strong human and cultural presence on the mountain. 

Fiona Bunn, a British and Swiss alpine photographer, commented on the power of photography and visual artwork to raise awareness on important issues regarding climate change.

“For the past 5 years I have felt the increasing significance of communicating through visual arts the changes I have seen, and the positive impact it can have on awareness of climate change” she said. Bunn added that the role of an artist in this field involves documenting changes, celebrating the beauty of the natural environment, and creating community by sharing with the world nature through art.

“The success of “Meltdown” is in finding a public platform for sharing this important issue”.

Astronomy lab at 3200m above seal level on the South Western slopes of Mount Aragats (Source: Toby Smith/Project Pressure)

The Meltdown exhibition is on display at the Natural History Museum, Vienna until September 1, 2019. Like the glaciers, see it before it’s too late.

Read More on GlacierHub:

Event Series Highlights Threats to Tibet’s Glaciers

Dispatch from the Cryosphere: Glacier Decrease in the Georgian Caucasus

How Mountain-Dwellers Talk About Adapting to Melting Glaciers

Leave a Reply