‘A World Without Ice’ exhibition now on view at Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum

Exhibition was created by professors at U-M’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance

"A World Without Ice" is on view at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum until Jan. 5, 2020.
"A World Without Ice" is on view at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum until Jan. 5, 2020. (Credit: University of Michigan professor Michael Gould)

ANN ARBOR – Explore the effects of climate change in a new multisensory, thought-provoking experience called “A World Without Ice” at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum now through Jan. 5.

Professors Stephen Rush and Michael Gould of University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance, in collaboration with visual artist Marion Tränkle and climate scientist Henry Pollack, created the art installation, which includes music, imagery and the percussive beat of melting ice.

“We’re all deeply concerned about climate change and presenting our work to the next generation,” Rush, a professor of performing arts technology, said in a statement.

A 26-minute video is accompanied by a soundtrack and melting ice blocks suspended above several drums. As the ice strikes the tuned drums, it makes unpredictable sounds that compliment the score made by Rush.

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A composer and the founder of U-M’s Digital Music Ensemble, Rush created the soundtrack using a method he calls a “sonification of data,” in which notes rise subtly, representing Earth’s rising temperature based on existing climate data.

"There are things that can happen when you make music that way that wouldn’t happen sitting at the piano,” Rush said in a statement. “In addition to the soundtrack, the percussion created by the melting ice forms such an important part of the auditory experience, like seven drummers you can’t control, moving very slowly.”

Tränkle created the accompanying film, which features scenes that Pollack and his peers captured in the Arctic and Antarctic.

“One of the things that is really difficult to express when you’re talking about climate or even big ice is a sense of scale, which in itself is staggering,” Gould said in a statement. “We’re hoping that people can start their own internal dialogue, coming to terms with what’s going on but also to open a conversation.”

The exhibition has been featured at the Kerrytown Concert House, U-M’s Duderstadt Center, Michigan Technical University and Oakland University.

Mel Drumm, Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum’s director, said he approached Rush and Gould after seeing a previous iteration of the installation.

“The museum is always seeking to provide new and meaningful learning opportunities for our guests,” Drumm said in a statement. “With the growing and important conversation occurring about climate, we found this exhibit to be an experience that is both contemplative and thought-provoking beyond any other exhibit experience we could have brought to Ann Arbor. We are delighted to share it with our community.”

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