Collins Conference Room
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Tristan Duke

Glacial Optics

In April of 2022, artist Tristan Duke set out on an arctic expedition. His mission was to make lenses out of glacial ice, and to use these ice lenses to capture photographic portraits of the very glaciers from which they were made. 

Sailing north of the 78th parallel on a three-masted tall ship in search of crystal clear glacial ice, Duke traveled with custom-made tools which he designed for forming the ice into perfect lenses. He also traveled with a custom-built tent camera designed to work with these unusual optical elements and record giant, 4x8-foot negatives.

Duke will discuss his process of inquiry and invention, including how he approached the various engineering challenges, conceptual questions, and aesthetic considerations of this project — all in the face of some of the harshest conditions imaginable.  

Over three years in the making, this expedition was part of the artist’s ongoing Glacial Optics project, positing the glacier as a literal and metaphorical lens thorough which to understand ourselves in these times of unmitigated climate disaster.

SFI Host: 
David Krakauer

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