This series, Ice Formations, captured ice patterns appearing on ponds, lakes and river in the beginning of winter around Fairbanks, Alaska. The photographs were taken over the past four years with a medium format film camera, which allows me to capture delicate details of the ice, and this is an ongoing project.
Many of these are frozen bubbles of gases like methane or carbon dioxide trapped under ice. When lake and river water freezes, it turns into ice slowly from the surface and traps the gases. The bubbles create unique geometric patterns. The actual diameter of the ice formations in my series is about 10-30 inches (25-75cm). Because methane gas is considered as one of the fundamental causes of greenhouse effects, scientists in Alaska are researching these frozen bubbles in relation to the global climate change. The window to find the ice pattern is short, because the ice is quickly covered once the snow falls. The water also shows other beautiful patterns in fall and winter. Snow falls on lakes and rivers, freezes, melts, refreezes and creates unique organic patterns on ice. The vapor in the air freezes as frost and grows intricate ice crystals. I want to capture the beauty and the dynamic changes of water in nature. The photographs are black and white with slight tint of colors. By minimizing colors, viewers can focus on the elegance of the forms and shading created by clear transparent ice and white frost.
We see various forms of water throughout the seasons in Alaska. I hope that the images of dynamic changes of water captured in my series would help viewers feel connected to nature, and inspire their curiosity to natural phenomena and invite them to explore the beauty in the details of the organic patterns. In our everyday life, there is beauty and wonder. However, many are subtle, ephemeral or too small to be noticed. Photography enables me to pay attention to those moments and subjects, take more time to observe them, examine from different angles and understand them more deeply. Wandering around looking for ice with my camera reminds me of treasure hunting in my boyhood. I used to run out into the woods after school hours. Exploring places that made up my neighborhood was an adventure and I enjoyed leaving my footprints on unknown areas. It was fun and uplifting enough to satisfy my young, innocent curiosity. As an adult, photographing ice has its roots in those childhood adventures. It’s in that spirit I strive to know the environment deeper-and genuine curiosity propels me to be involved in the place I live. It’s a dialog between nature and me. The photograph is the treasure I take from hunting my surroundings, and through photographs, nature reveals its secret beauty to me and I can share them with other people.
To exhibit the ice formation photographs, I have built more than 40 light boxes to present the ice images with LED backlighting. The frame size is 21” x 21”, which shows the ice patterns close to their actual size, and the ice-pattern images are printed on high-resolution translucent film specially designed for backlight display. I sandwiched the printed image with two sheets of glass and slid them into the front side of the box along a slit which I made on the inside. I had a chance to exhibit these light boxes in a gallery recently, and I placed 41 boxes on the floor, displayed them in groups of 3 to 5 boxes. I tried to set the groups in an orderly and organic pattern on the floor, and connected each boxes with electric codes.
Putting the framed images on the floor was an experimental attempt, and was challenging for me as a photographer. I chose to do so to mimic the experience of looking down and seeing these wonderful ice patterns, at this size, in nature. I wanted to make an installation which would invite viewers to explore my images and to have the joy I felt as I discovered the ice patterns. I hope the viewers feel fun and excitement, and wonder the beauty of nature. Furthermore, it would be the greatest pleasure if my images would inspire viewers to open their mind to new ways of seeing the world and to be aware of the harmony between humans and nature. [Official Website]
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