Phoning glaciers at 3am

[Image: Iceland’s Vatnajökull glacier].

The Guardian tells us today about a “unique work of art” that “invites viewers to phone a glacier in Iceland – and listen to its death throes, live, through a microphone submerged deep in the bitterly cold lagoon.”
The weatherproof microphone thus “relays the splashes, creaks and groans as great masses of melting ice sheer off and crash into the water.”

[Image: Iceland’s Vatnajökull glacier].

You just have to call the following number: +44 (0) 7758 225698 (a British mobile phone – non-Brits, beware huge long-distance fees!) to “make direct contact with the polar icecap.”
However, the article warns us: “Only one caller at a time can get through: [artist Katie] Paterson recommends the small hours of the morning.”
So, if you’re extremely rich and cursed with insomnia, you can always lull yourself to sleep, sitting up at 3am near the kitchen window with your telephone pressed hard against your ear, listening to the groan of distant glaciers…
I tried to get through a few hours ago, but dialed the wrong number – connecting instead to the subterranean roar of Mt. Hood.
Perhaps there should be a telephone directory for natural phenomena.

(Thanks, Alex! Earlier on BLDGBLOG: To eavesdrop on breaking glaciers from within and When landscapes sing: or, London Instrument).

18 thoughts on “Phoning glaciers at 3am”

  1. just listened in for a minute on Skype. Suspension of disbelief is a useful thing in this case. Mostly the sound of echoing running water. Not the drip drip drip of impending doom.

  2. That’s genius. Version 2.0 needs to have Yoko Ono hanging out on the glacier, with the barely audible strains of her wails, or the solemn lyrics of “Walking on Thin Ice” periodically wafting within earshot of the mic.

  3. What tapping into unorganic or man-made processes such as the war in Iraq or an off-shore drilling operation. While perhaps not as soothing as the calving of glaciers, I think the effect would be amazing, sound without commentary or news coverage. The pop of distant automatic weapon fire, somewhere dusty, remote–a shopkeeper reloads–listen until his clip is dry.

  4. Geoff,
    I have just received word that Virtual Rome was actually built in 3,648 days…

    Ancient Rome was reborn—as a virtual city—today, when a team of American and Italian academics unveiled Rome Reborn, a real-time 3-D computer reconstruction that allows visitors to navigate the ancient city as if it were 320 A.D. again. Thanks to the complex software run on PCs, modern visitors can fly over the ancient city, pan down into the Colosseum, cruise the Roman Forum and stroll into the Senate building.”

  5. i feel like an idiot for asking… but why is there a “+” in front of a 44? (is it an extension?) and why is there a 0 in parenthesis? thank you…

  6. The plus is there to remind you to enter the numbers you need to dial to make an international call. And you can’t just put the numbers themselves, because they vary by country: e.g. to make an international call from the U.S., you dial 011 and then the country code, but to make an international call from the U.K., you dial 00 and then the country code … etc.

  7. Geoff –
    I saw Katie Pattersons work yesterday – the last day I think of the Slades summer show. She also had another great piece in which she had encoded the Moonlight Sonata into morse, beamed it at the moon and recorded the refelction. The reflected morse code was then transformed back into music and played on one of those auto-playing pianos (the ones where the keys move by themselves). She has more about it on her website

  8. I’m wondering if someone in the UK could call the number and record the sounds for a few minutes. Then post it on the net for all the people who can’t afford to make the call, but would like to hear the sound.

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