June 2021 | By Ben Cullen Williams & Bryce Cronkite-Ratcliff
Cold Flux highlights the peril of our global icecaps, while questioning if the melt is irreversible or whether there is hope if we act now.
The work Cold Flux highlights the peril of our global icecaps, while questioning if the melt is irreversible or whether there is hope if we act now.
While Ben Cullen Williams was on an expedition to Antarctica with polar explorer Robert Swan, he filmed the Larsen-B Ice shelf that splintered off from the Antarctic peninsula in 2002, and has been disintegrating since. In collaboration with creative technologist Bryce Cronkite-Ratcliff this footage was used to train machine learning algorithms to generate video landscapes which seemingly exist within a state of melting and freezing, forming and un-forming.
The resulting video is strange and uncanny, a familiar yet distant landscape, a prediction or a recording with echoes of the sublime. Cut into this visual landscape is an AI-generated video of the surface of the sun which is synthetic and uncertain. Cold Flux presents to us new digital materiality that is starting to exist alongside our own, while exploring its relationship to the natural world.
Within the film, A slow tracking shot shows the sides of the icebergs, while the vast blocks of ice also move within the shots themselves. Flowing and morphing in the frame, the imagery moves from the recognisable to the indistinguishable. The camera looking at the sun is static, with the sun continually rotating within the frame, something seemingly impossible. Accompanying the video is a haunting audio track by British musician Gaika. The track is delicate, yet strong, digital but also human.
Overall, Cold Flux maps the complex network between technology, environmental change and our understanding of the world.