Water is the most abundant chemical compound in the universe. It’s ubiquitous in our own solar system and fundamental to all life operations in space and on our home planet. Water has even been recently detected in far distant galaxies more than 12 billion light-years away. It´s vital in supporting human habitation for things like drinking water, agriculture, radiation shielding, and oxygen. But water is also the key element in a process called “terraforming”, whereby a hostile environment, like a planet that is too cold, too hot, or with an unbreathable atmosphere, can be altered to make it suitable for human life. Such a process is not merely a futuristic scenario but represents exactly what is happening on Earth at this very moment as the process of atmospheric change brought about by increasing CO2 emissions heats up our planet and speeds up the process of climate change. This development poses a calamitous threat to the world population both present and future as one of its consequences is the retreat of glaciers and the melting of glacial ice which leads to globally rising sea levels, flooding, loss of habitable land and scarcity of food and drinking water. Implicit in the terraforming dialogue is the paradox that we might need to transform our neighbour planet Mars into a habitable environment precisely because we are transforming our home planet into an uninhabitable one.
The triptych “frozen waves” focusses on the transformation of solid ice into liquid water. It depicts a melting glacier in Iceland, still frozen but already in the process of liquefaction. The present clearly observable disappearance of glaciers is no longer due to natural causes but must be ascribed to anthropogenic influences – as humankind and its technologies impact upon the Earth’s climate. Glaciers are the Earth’s largest reservoirs of fresh water and an essential element of the fragile ecological balance of our biospheres. Over recent decades, however, the majority of the world’s glaciers have suffered a drastic reduction in their mass as a consequence of global climate change. Increasing satellite observation from space helps us to measure the glacier mass balance as well as to track changes in ice sheet thickness and ice flow velocities. Rising temperatures across the world and the consequent shrinkage of glacial ice are to be attributed to the ever more potent greenhouse effect. The artwork “frozen waves” expresses the inherent violence of this transformation process. The ice walls seem to fight against the inevitable loss of stability, turning into chaotic liquid structures. The triptych composition of the work intensifies the immersive effect of being swept away by the forces of this liquefaction and reveals the dialectic behind the concept of terraforming – the beauty of creation on one side and the violence of destruction on the other.