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WAIS Reliquary: 68,000 Years

Media: Glass, ice core water samples, silk, wood, 8 channel sound by Steve Peters
WAIS Reliquary: 68,000 Years; Installed at Center for Visual Art, Denver, Colorado in 2017
WAIS Reliquary: 68,000 Years; detail; silk, glass, glacial water; 2016; photo credit: Chris Holloman
WAIS Reliquary: 68,000 Years; detail; silk, glass, glacial water; 2016; photo credit: Chris Holloman
WAIS Reliquary: 68,000 Years; detail; silk, glass, glacial water; 2016; photo credit: Chris Holloman
WAIS Reliquary: 68,000 Years; detail; silk, glass, glacial water; 2016; photo credit: Chris Holloman
WAIS Reliquary: 68,000 Years; installed at Nevada Museum of Art, Center for Art+Environment; 2016; photo credit: Chris Holloman
WAIS Reliquary: 68,000 Years; installed at Nevada Museum of Art, Center for Art+Environment; 2016; photo credit: Chris Holloman
WAIS Reliquary: 68,000 Years; detail; silk, glass, glacial water; 2016; photo credit: Joe Rudko
WAIS Reliquary: 68,000 Years; detail; silk, glass, glacial water; 2016; photo credit: Joe Rudko
WAIS Reliquary: 68,000 Years; Steve Peters "playing" glass ampules for 8 channel sound recording
WAIS Reliquary Urn; decommissioned DISC Drill, cast glass; 36"ht x 6"dia; 2017
WAIS Reliquary Urn; decommissioned DISC Drill, cast glass; 36"ht x 6"dia; 2017
WAIS Reliquary Urn; detail; decommissioned DISC Drill, cast glass; 36"ht x 6"dia; 2017
WAIS Reliquary Urn; detail; decommissioned DISC Drill, cast glass; 36"ht x 6"dia; 2017

WAIS Reliquary: 68,000 Years is a sculptural installation comprised of 3405 glass ampules sewn to 678 silk panels creating a subtly swaying wave form. Shifting hues hint at untold levels of information and a deep measure of time. Though abstract, the installation’s form is the expression of 68,000 years of temperature history from an ice sheet.

Seattle composer/sound artist Steve Peters created a multi-channel sound piece, taken from recordings of the reliquary ampules. Steve makes music and sound for many contexts and occasions using environmental recordings, found/natural objects, electronics, acoustic instruments, and voices.

In January 2012 scientists completed drilling a 3405 meters core from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (http://www.waisdivide.unh.edu/). It is one of the deepest and most detailed ice cores ever retrieved. Data from the study of this ice is redefining our understanding of the climate record.

In 2009-10, I visited the WAIS Divide Ice Core field camp and was struck by the scale of time and space that the Ice Core represents. The WAIS Reliquary sculpture acts as a shrine and permanent memorial of this project, symbolically recapturing samples taken from the depths of the ice sheet and drawing connections between the secular and sacred.

Read more about this work here