23 Mar 2017

Joseph Michael - Antarctica in Auckland

From Nine To Noon, 10:07 am on 23 March 2017

On Friday, after four years in the making, an artistic project of literally epic proportions will come to life

For three nights Auckland's War Memorial Museum will become a blank canvas for the projection of a life size iceberg, to showcase the untouched beauty of Antarctica.

Described as ‘a cinematic collision of nature and architecture’, 'ANTARCTICA - while you were sleeping' is the largest project of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

And the technology is a New Zealand first, as the 360 degree projection has been mapped to fit the building and bring the entire building to life.

The visual artist behind the project, Joseph Michael, captured the footage in a month-long expedition to Antarctica in 2015, along with a team of eight film-makers and photographers.

Michael told RNZ’s Kathryn Ryan the group travelled from the bottom of South America, across the Drake Passage to arrive at Antarctica, which was exciting stuff in sizable swells.

He says the crew was well-equipped with sound recording equipment, various cameras and a drone as he wanted to translate all the events that icebergs go through.

There were two questions that he asked when dealing with artistic or technical challenges:

“Am I translating a sense of scale and am I translating a sense of awe.

“For me that was the most important thing.”

The iceberg that will be represented on Auckland Museum is called Ernest and is one of the largest ones the group came across, but is still roughly three-times the size of the building.

“And that museum’s a huge building so that sort of puts things into context of how large the landscape is down there.”

“I wanted to take as many tools down there (as possible) to capture all the different aspects of the environment.”

He said they had done some research, but there wasn’t much online, about the sound of icebergs.

“We thought we’d get some creaking and cracking and potentially some ocean sounds.”

He said the biggest discovery was finding out that each iceberg is as different aurally as it is photographically.

The sounds range from fizzing, to splitting, groaning and crashing.

Michael says it was a huge challenge to bring the whole project together: “It’s the equivalent of putting together eight feature films, which are all in sync together”.

But he’s confident his hard work has paid off and the installation will be impressive for those who manage to see it.

“There’s something amazing about putting this image on a building that you walk around and you get a real sense of it being an iceberg.”

ANTARCTICA: while you were sleeping, is a collaboration with the Auckland Arts Festival and Auckland Museum. and you can also listen to Alison Ballance's four-part podcast of Michael's trip to Antarctica.