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Down the Rabbit Hole Art Collective took part in this year's Art and Science creative collaboration between artists and scientists.

Cartographer Belinda Smith Lyttle has spent years exploring the depiction of known qualities and quantities of surface in the frozen continent. For this project we embarked on a series of conversations about what the manipulation of digital elevation data would reveal digitally about Antarctica's geological past. It quickly became apparent that the scale at which she was working was enormous and that simplification of the data would be necessary to draw out the striking changes in topographic relief from submarine bedrock to the Antarctic Plateau.

In the final work there are three light boxes. Two underlit woven tapestries relate to the landscape around the Taylor Mountains in Victoria Land. One depicts a dramatic exposed escarpment and the second is a white on white response to the fields of snow and ice in the glacier flows that cascade around and over mountains from the plateau to the sea.

The third light box is an LED work with a play on words around the idea of "emergent seas". With some of the ice stripped off we can visualise Antarctica as a continent surrounded by a chain of outer islands. Beyond the outer Antarctic archipelago we get glimpses of the major rifts in the bathymetry of the sea floor and track these towards the partly submerged continent of Zealandia and neighbouring Australia, all of which once made up the mighty continent of Gondwana Land. 

NATURAL & BUILT ENVIRONMENTS

September 2021

Image credit: Otago Polytechnic. All rights reserved.