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Ice Pendulum Project
The ice pendulum is a live event and sculpture that recreates Léon Foucault's famous 1851 Panthéon pendulum demonstration with a bob of melting ice. While constituting over half the earth's body of water in frozen form, ice is in a constant state of change. It is a material that is always on the verge of being in one form or another, and in recent years melting polar ice has become a profound part of an increasing global consciousness of fragility.
This performance piece refers to the effects of shifting dispersions of water on the earth's axial precession, which are slowing of the speed of the planet's rotation, to make each day fractionally longer. When the ice starts to melt, the object loses its form, shifting our perception of planetary motion, similar to 1851, when Foucault astounded Parisians with his demonstration of the gravitational rotation of the earth, which simultaneously swung the French public to seal Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte's grasp to power.
The pendulum still has more secrets to share today. As it flows through space, swinging back and forth, the pendulum seems to progress through a path, moving around in a loop like the world on its axis, in a flow which some philosophers have called the 'course of time'. Four centuries ago Galileo Galilei explained the reasons why we do not feel the earth's motion, saying it was due to the law of inertia: without any resistance we will continue in a given trajectory, so our experience of the pull of gravity is similar to its pull on the earth. Like a girl on the swing spinning within the world, we are dizzied by the sensation. But this is another illusion. The pendulum's place on its course is always the same, and we are the ones that turn around the demonstration.
The other radical evidence of temporal phenomena, the 'arrow of time' is also still at play in this enchanting object. In the melting pendulum of ice we confront constant material change. This 'decreating' substance is in stark contrast to the illusion of the apparently impermeable brass bob. Normally an unchanging solid, the frozen ball is now an obvious subject of the laws of thermodynamics, which decree that changes of matter are keyed into a cause-driven direction: for ice once melted can never return to how it was. To speak of decreation is to describe how loss feeds into another form and thus, in this generative role provides the probability of the future because of the arrowed quality of change.
The third aspect of time that we confront in the ice pendulum is its representation of global melting polar masses. Researchers are indicating that the shifting dispersion of water due to climate change is causing an exponential drag due to the gravitational pull of the moon on the tides that is slowing the precession of the earth on its axis and thus the velocity of the earth's rotation, adding to the length of each solar day, beyond the earth's current slowing rate of rotation of about 2.3 milliseconds per day per calendar year.
It is not easy to get ourselves out of the time to which we are accustomed. Much of the measures in use today remainl abstract. We are still embedded in a convenient fiction, unable to distinguish the method of counting moments instead of seeing how we pass through them. How can we revolutionise this way of perceiving ourselves in time?