Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's in the water

Countdown update: 12 days to Christmas, 60 days til the opening of the Olympics, as round tiny snow balls flurry past us.

World leaders meet in tension in Copenhagen, and a blizzard is expected to blanket the lower mainland for tomorrow. We are up at 5 for the first ferry into Vancouver. Early dawn stretches into darkness past 7:30. All weather stations predicting 10 centimetres of snow Monday afternoon and freezing rain on Tuesday for the rush hour drive home.The globe seems to be cooling on the West Coast. I say Let it Snow!

That was yesterday. A dusting of snow - then, nothing but rain since.

“Lots of things were happening today,” Gord reports at the end of Monday's work, “some of which were interesting, some of which were not. The process can be humbling; you’re at the mercy of unknown elements. I have to remind myself to be patient.” The ice isn’t coming out of the plastic trays cleanly; it’s sticking in certain areas. “I’ve never seen it before,” he said.

“It’s a lot colder in there than the other location ( in Chicago); there are technical differences. We did some tests on Thursday last week. Friday we poured a whole batch; only half were usable.”

At Artigiano, the day's work is laid out. Erik: “We ran into a few bumps; it’s really really cold in that space. We’re in the experimental stage, given the circumstances.”

“We know a lot about the variables that are at play,” Gord says. “the water on the site is unique to us; it’s mineral content; whatever is in it . That and the kind of freezing. This place uses air circulation to freeze, unlike Chicago." In Fenestrelle the water came down the mountain in streams, was very oxygen-rich, so it bubbled. Initially that slowed them down. (See http://paintingsbelowzero.blogspot.com/2006/01/we-have-ice-sitting-onstage-in-chiesa.html)

“It’s Improv, " I suggest. "Improv/Science,” Erik counters. It's the creative process, I think, confident in Gord's determination, the same he uses to excel in tennis, in hockey, in squash. Observe, be patient and disciplined. Because of intense cold, the plastic trays are super frozen when the liquid is poured, so that early liquid freezes too quickly. When the second layer is poured on top, it freezes more slowly. Both ices are different in structure and don’t adhere to each other effectively.

“You have to discover how to work with water – you might heat it before the pour to slow down the freezing. Or make sure the entire pour is done at the same time, so everything freezes uniformly.” Put the metal plates on the floor, so the freezing happens both from the air and from the plates. Put trays on pallets to see how that would change the consistency of the ice. It’s as unpredictable as the weather.

I sent them off to the gulag, this morning, all of them hopeful.

“We’ll see the results today.”

1 comment:

matt hotz said...

Reading about the space, the possibilities available and unintended.
Wow. I want to see the shapes and formations the freezing, the bitter temperature and the water consistency brings about. How soft is the water?
Brittle ice? Sounds interesting and possibly suspect.
Don't forget to play and be amazed by what happens.