Seeing is Believing: Project Pressure’s Cryosphere Exhibition at Unseen Amsterdam

Project Pressure’s promotional poster for its traveling exhibition, When Records Melt (Source: Project Pressure).

Klaus Thymann, an environmental scientist and a photographer, married two interests to make an impact on the world as the founder of Project Pressure, an English charity organization that spotlights the world’s vanishing glaciers through poignant photographs and videos. As the organization’s director, Thymann works in collaboration with other artists to depict firsthand the environmental impact of climate change. This month, Project Pressure’s latest collaboration is a traveling exhibition, “When Records Melt,” which will make its debut in the Netherlands at Unseen Amsterdam, an international photography fair held annually at the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam.

Unseen Amsterdam, now in its seventh year, draws attention to the changing medium of photography and highlights the work of new and emerging artists. “When Records Melt” is Project Pressure’s latest photographic exploration of the cryosphere, which will include photographs of the Antarctic Peninsular and the Rhône glacier in Switzerland, captured as part of the expedition project, “Shroud,” which Thymann was personally involved in.

In an interview with GlacierHub, Thymann described his latest work on “Shroud” at Rhône Glacier. “It deals with adaptation rather than mitigation. We are past the point where we can mitigate climate change. We will still have to try to limit carbon emissions, but we need to deal with the consequences,” he said.

“Shroud” explores how forced adaptation is happening at Rhône Glacier, where locals turn a profit from tourists who come to see an ice grotto carved into the glacier. One featured image from the exhibition shows the Rhône glacier shrouded in thermal blankets by a small business to prevent the glacier from further melting and to preserve the glacier as a tourist attraction.

Rhône Glacier as seen in a photograph for project “Shroud” (Source: Simon Norfolk & Klaus Thymann/Unseen Amsterdam).

“It is absurd and I guess that is part of the point. It should also be a call to action,” Thymann said. A review in Next Nature describes how the glacier has become a commodity, noting that the result is “a surreal, nearly abstract image of a landscape that once was natural.”

Although Thymann has not discussed the main messages of “Shroud” in detail with the contributing photographer on the project, Simon Norfolk, he says their main hope is for people to be surprised and intrigued by the images.

“Generally, I hope to raise questions rather than anything else,” Thymann told GlacierHub.

Apart from working on photographic exhibitions, Project Pressure also works hand-in-hand with the scientific community to pioneer new technological developments in the field of glacier monitoring. It is recognized as an official contributor to the Global Terrestrial Network for Glaciers, for example, and is a partner of the World Glacier Monitoring Service and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

GlacierHub has also previously featured Thymann’s work on MELT, an open source digital atlas that allows the public to visually tour the world’s receding glaciers to better understand the ongoing impact of rising global temperatures.

When asked about the inspiration behind his work, Thymann said he reads widely on contemporary issues as well as science. More importantly, when he is out in the field, he says he looks for the stories behind the pictures that are waiting to be told.

“For me capturing images is not relevant, storytelling is,” Thymann explained.

“Cyclope, Glacier du Rhône,” a photograph to be featured in Unseen Amsterdam (Source: Noémie Goudal/ Project Pressure).

For Thymann, the greatest success of Project Pressure is seeing how the artists he has collaborated with engage with the subject matter of glaciers and climate change through their journey of creating art.

“I think all combined, the works are very strong and offer a real unique platform, and that makes me proud,” Thymann said.

On display in Amsterdam from September 21 to 23, this exhibition is not to be missed by glacier lovers. To support Project Pressure in their continued work, you may also donate at project-pressure.org.

Photo Friday: Crowd-Sourced Images of Glacier Retreat

Imagine if we had a crowd-sourced digital record of the damage climate change is causing to our planet. That’s the mission of Project Pressure, an UK-based organization dedicated to documenting and publicizing the world’s vanishing glaciers. With MELT, an open source digital atlas, Project Pressure hopes to give the public a new tool to visually tour the world’s receding glaciers, helping us all to better understand the ongoing impact of rising global temperatures.

Rather than relying on satellite images and direct measurement, two techniques that have their limits, Project Pressure hopes to document glacier fluctuations of the world’s 300,000 glaciers through comparative imagery. This will allow researchers to analyze glaciers otherwise inaccessible for direct measurement and provide new visual insights to changes in glacier length.  The images are both heartbreaking and alarming, demonstrating both the staggering beauty of our world glaciers and their current state of decline.

Take a look at GlacierHub’s collection of images from Project Pressure, and learn more about the initiative here.

 

 

Glacier sediments are clearly visible entering the Pacific Ocean. Grand Plateau, Alaska 2011 (source: Klaus Thymann/Project Pressure)
Glacier sediments are visible entering the Pacific Ocean. Grand Plateau, Alaska 2011 (source: Klaus Thymann/Project Pressure).

 

 

The Pallin Halvjökull is set within the artic circle in northern Sweden. Pallin Glacier Tunnel, 2013 (source: Klaus Thymann/Project Pressure).
The Pallin Halvjökull is set within the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden. Pallin Glacier Tunnel, 2013 (source: Klaus Thymann/Project Pressure).

 

 

In 1963 Lewis glacier ran past the guides’ hut, taken from the series ‘When I Am Laid in Earth’ by Simon Norfolk Lewis Glacier, Kenya 2014 (source: Simon Norfolk/Project Pressure).
In 1963, Lewis Glacier ran past the guides’ hut. Taken from the series ‘When I Am Laid in Earth’ by Simon Norfolk. Lewis Glacier, Kenya 2014 (source: Simon Norfolk/Project Pressure).

 

 

The Helheim glacier is connected to the Greenlandic icesheet and spans approx. 5.5 kilometers in width. Helheim, Greenland 2012 (source: Klaus Thymann/Project Pressure).
The Helheim Glacier is connected to the Greenland Icesheet and spans approx. 5.5 kilometers in width. Helheim, Greenland, 2012 (source: Klaus Thymann/Project Pressure).

 

 

Working closely with the Glacier World Monitoring Service this glacier was selected to be documented. Findel, Switzerland, 2009 (source: Klaus Thymann/Project Pressure).
Working closely with the Glacier World Monitoring Service, this glacier was selected to be documented. Findel, Switzerland, 2009 (source: Klaus Thymann/Project Pressure).

 

 

The Perrito Moreno glacier is 30km in length stemming from the south Patagonian ice field, Moreno, Argentina 2008 (source: Klaus Thymann/Project Pressure).
Perito Moreno Glacier is 30km in length stemming from the Southern Patagonian Icefield. Moreno, Argentina 2008 (source: Klaus Thymann/Project Pressure).

 

 

Wavelike formation next to the Tuv Glacier in the Hornsund fjord, Southern Svalbard, 2013 (source: Corey Arnold/Project Pressure).
Wavelike formation next to the Tuv Glacier in Hornsund Fjord. Southern Svalbard, 2013 (source: Corey Arnold/Project Pressure).

 

 

One of the few glaciers encompassed by trees. Spegazzini, Argentina, 2008 (source: Klaus Thymann/Project Pressure).
One of the few glaciers encompassed by trees. Spegazzini, Argentina, 2008 (source: Klaus Thymann/Project Pressure).

 

 

 

 

 

Melting Glaciers Through the Artist’s Lens

In northern Germany  a small open-air art exhibition,  Outdoors Installation, is showcasing the work of six photographers who capture the dramatic changes glacial ice has undergone in the last hundred years across the world.  In alliance with the glacier focused charity, documentary and climate change advocacy group, Project Pressure, the diverse artists are working collectively to spread awareness of climate change though their powerful images.

The 14 images displayed at the environmental education park, Schleimünde Pilot Island, are only a small sample of the Project Pressure artists’ work.  The exhibit, which opened July 16 and will close in September, is a precursor to a larger touring exhibition which will launch next year.

Outdoors Installation was brought to the public with support from the German environmental non-profit group, The Lighthouse Foundation, who purchased the island from the German government in 2008.

Project Pressure’s Outdoors Installation (Source: Project Pressure)

The founder of Project Pressure, Klaus Thymann, said that he believes visual art depicting retreating glaciers can be a powerful tool to increase awareness of climate change, forging a way through the complex science that isolates the average person.  

“Art energizes, it’s a positive touch point, it can spread interest.  A lot of people find science difficult, inaccessible and complicated so they do not engage with it,” Thymann said in a Skype interview with GlacierHub. “If we can use art to get people to engage with scientific issues, we are at least some of the way there to dealing with the underlying issues [of climate change].”

Thymann, born in Denmark, is one of the six photographers featured at the Outdoors Installation.  The other artists include an American fisherman, Corey Arnold, as well as Scott Conarroe, a Canadian whose landscape photography extends to depict industrial works, and Peter Funch, a Danish photographer who has photographed series on human relations and cities. Rounding out the lineup is Mariele Neudecker, a UK-based German artist who works in a variety of mediums and the Nigerian-native Simon Norfolk, who has photographed the war in Afghanistan. Though each artist has a distinctive approach, they all show the intensity and the bleakness of melting glaciers.

One of Thymann’s displays, a juxtaposition of two aerial photographs of Helheim and Fenris Glaciers in Greenland from 1933, and again a starker picture taken in 2012, has a complicated political backstory.  

Glacier du Baounet, France (Source: Scott Conarroe)

In the first half of the twentieth century, Norway and Denmark were in a dispute over sovereignty of a remote section of eastern Greenland.  In hopes to substantiate its claim, Denmark set forth expeditions to survey the unknown region. In 1933, a series of aerial photographs of Greenland’s coasts, thus its coastal glaciers, were taken by Danish explorer Keld Milthers.  The photos were eventually archived in Copenhagen, forgotten, and later rediscovered by Kurt Kjær of the Statens Naturhistoriske Museum in 2009.  

On a trip in 2012, Thymann then took aerial photographs of the same glaciers once documented years past.  The two contrasting shots of the same Greenland glaciers show clear evidence of the ice mass receding over seventy years.

Lewis Glacier_Kenya_Simon Norfolk_2014
Fire marking past glacier front of Lewis Glacier, Kenya (Source: Simon Norfolk)

Comparing an old photograph with a new one is not the only way Project Pressure artists capture the climate-induced changes to glaciers.

Another artist traveled to a glacier and set up a line of fires to mark its former extent. Conarroe, another photographer featured in the exhibit, said “I think Simon Norfolk’s work from the Lewis Glacier is useful and fascinating.  Living in Canada and Switzerland, African glaciers are not so on my radar…. The fire+ice contrast… [is] an efficient indication of how much the glacier has retreated,” when he was asked what other artist featured at the Outdoors Installation struck him the most.    

From her studio in Bristol, United Kingdom, German born featured artist, Mariele Neudecker, spoke of how it is important to reflect “reality” in art.

Qôrqup Glacier_Greenland_Mariele Neudecker_2015
Qorqup Glacier, Greenland (Source Mariele Neudecker)

“I think it is important to make work about the world we live in, and our perceptions of the multi-faceted reality around us,” Neudecker explained in an email correspondence with GlacierHub.  Neudecker immerses viewers into the world of glaciers through 3D imagery.  She captured the two images displayed at the Outdoor Installation using a stereo camera, according to Neudecker.

When viewed with the naked eye each image appears as a mix of red and blue, but when the work is taken in through 3D glasses or a stereoscope, the viewer is forced out of the two dimensional world of conventional photography.

Thymann told GlacierHub that artists are still planning expeditions into the field to gather additional captivating subject matter.  He hopes to reveal those and many more pieces of glacier art at the traveling exhibit Project Pressure aims to bring to the public.