Clea T. Waite, University of Southern California

The Ice-Time project is a creative response to the perilous state of Earth’s ecosystem. Ice-Time will be an immersive, multi-projection video and sound installation combining art and science that minutely examines the structure of ice to reveal the time embedded within. The project conveys the essence of ice and its intimations, eliciting the poetics contained within frozen water as revealed by current climate research. Glaciers, like geology, are a primary indicator of the deep time of our planet’s environment. Ice is also the most visible indicator of the short-term effects of climate change. Glacial ice presents a four-dimensional hyper-view into time and space, an icy tesseract giving us an 800,000 years view backwards into Earth’s climatological past and forwards towards the pending outcomes of current rising temperatures. 

 Angelika von Chamier recording sound at the Ice Fjord Ilulissat, Greenland. 6.2016

This essay presents the cinema-installation Ice-Time as work-in-progress, focusing on the project’s background research. We present a field report from our filming expedition to Western Greenland in 2016, above the Arctic Circle, in which we combined the methods of a naturalist in the field, collaboration with experts, and the collecting of scientific and cultural data.

Ice-Time still frame
Clea T. Waite filming Ice-Time on the Ice Fjord Ilulissat, Greenland. 6.2016

Ice-Time focuses on the relationship between ice, time, climate, and Western culture. The film occupies a hexagonal, six-screen cinema architecture of translucent projections that layer in a faceting effect, merging into crystalline collages of shifting combinations as visitors move through. A three-dimensional soundscape expands the image space, composed from the field recordings of live ice, sonified glacial data, excerpts of interviews with researchers, and literature. By means of a vivid, material presence of image, sound, data, and time, the immersive cinema-installation presents a proprioceptive interaction of form and content, creating an embodied, participatory film that imbues the spectator with a deep awareness of the environmental and cultural implications of ice. 

Model of the Ice-Time installation


Clea T. Waite is an intermedia artist, scholar, and experimental filmmaker whose artworks investigate the artifacts and poetics that emerge at the intersection of art and science. She creates somatic, cinematic works that engage with climate change, astronomy, particle physics, and popular culture via immersion and sensual interfaces – as well as one inter-species collaboration with several hundred tropical spiders. Currently completing her PhD at the University of Southern California in Media Arts + Practice, Waite combines a background in physics and computer graphics from the MIT Media Lab with her current research in cinema, media art, and critical theory. This multifaceted background brings a unique blend of expertise to her projects from which cross-disciplinary synergies emerge. Waite’s artworks have been exhibited and awarded internationally, notably the IBM Innovation Prize for Artistic Creation in Art and Technology, the GC3 at the Miraikan National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, and most recently the Open Sky Project for the ICC tower, Hong Kong. Recent publications include articles in the Spherical Book Project from the Aalto University Tangential Points Publication Series, Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Animation Practice, Production & Process from Intellect Journals, and proceedings from the International Symposium on Electronic Art. Waite’s fellowships include an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fellow, a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies Fellow, CERN European Laboratory for Particle Physics artist in residence, and fellow at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne. Waite has previously held positions at the Academy of Film and Television Babelsberg, Pratt Institute, New York, and the University of the Arts, Berlin.

Clea T. Waite on expedition in Greenland for “Ice-Time”