Ice Typography, artist statement



The Ice Typography series consists of three-dimensional words fabricated in ice placed outdoors that speak to how the viewer’s gaze frames and informs the landscape. The installations have varied from 8-foot high ice letters on the Yukon River to 18-inch high letters set in downtown Toronto. When the ice texts are installed on site, the temperature determines how long it will take for them to change state from solid to liquid. This phase of transition becomes symbolic of the interconnectedness of language and culture to the land as they are affected by time and by a constant shifting and transforming nature.

The use of text in the landscape relates to concrete and visual poetry but with the added twist of having the word’s meaning alter with the melting process. Sometimes the words relate directly to the landscape such as “silence” where the bucolic idealism of nature is transformed by the sound of the crashing waves behind it. Some words reference art history such as “Reason” which was based on Joyce Weiland’s 1968 ironic quilt that reads: Reason over Passion. Here the passion of nature erodes reason slowly but surely. Other words such as “View” signify an environmental statement warning of man’s encroachment on the land and how we consume space with our gaze. The work also pays homage to the N. E. Thing Company who in the nineteen-seventies put up signs along roads instructing drivers to: “Start Viewing” and “Stop Viewing” the landscape.

The visual poetry in this series aims to subvert the authority of the English language and the commerce of signage by representing words as vulnerable and shifting. Ice Typography absorbs light, melts and eventually leaves no trace; these words have more in common with dreams and oral stories than linear language. Words cast in ice interrupt our literal narratives, allowing a more integrated reading of the land we inhabit, as opposed to the past and current commodification of land as limitless resource. This fundamental split in perception lies at the crux of our environmental crisis. I therefore choose to create within an ephemeral vernacular to accentuate the collective physical and psychological experience of flux and change.