Glacier Project - by Flounder Lee (USA)

Glacier Project Statement by Flounder Lee

For the last several years, my work has revolved around lens-based mapping. The topics have ranged from school borders to post-colonial topics. The Glacier Project is the beginning of my exploration of environmental themes using the same methods but with the addition of aerial photo and video from both human-sized helicopters and my newly acquired remote control helicopter.

When I started, I planned to follow the former termini of glaciers around Juneau, Alaska and photograph there. The Juneau Icefield is a somewhat unique occurrence in that many glaciers are such a short distance from a metropolitan area making them fairly accessible. Another unique aspect to the Icefield is the length of time the constituent glaciers have been monitored and measured. Most of the measuring started in the 1940s with the establishment of the Juneau Icefield Research Project (JIRP). JIRP has continued monitoring ever since and it was their maps of the retreat of the glaciers that I planned on using to create my work. Sixteen of the seventeen glaciers around Juneau have been retreating at alarming rates.

Arriving on the ground, this mapping was much more difficult. Termini were in the middle of lakes, landslides had blocked shorelines, helicopters couldn’t land due to the wind, it NEVER stopped raining. What I ended up with was a couple of panoramas and a video documenting the somewhat harrowing journey. Later, I expanded the project onto the Alpine glaciers in Grand Teton and Glacier National Parks. It is estimated that all the glaciers in both parks will be gone by 2030, a fact that will ripple through the ecosystems in these wonderlands. Here I focused on just making images of the endangered glaciers while still shooting some video and working on an experimental site-specific installation.

Through all of the lens-based mapping projects, I am interested in bringing a conversation to the table around the topics. The artwork made through this process is visually interesting enough to draw viewers into the image and complex enough to get them to then investigate. They do not give the whole story in the image but, hopefully, begin a dialogue.
Video : ‘Mapping the Juneau Glaciers’