Snowflake Capture ACE

Serie «Snowflake Capture»
glass plate with formvar replicas, LED panel, polarizor film
30 x 30 cm


This project is a collaboration between an artist and the scientists Katherine Leonard (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Schweiz), Irina Gorodetskaya (University of Aveiro, Portugal) und Maria Tsukernik (Brown University, USA) exploring commonalities such as applied methods and instruments, and visualizing the process of modeling in natural science. The goal is showing in an intuitive, tangible way how contemporary science is made to a wider public. Scientists are not only creating the most powerful actual pictures of our contemporary world, they are also shaping our awareness of the world.

The starting point for this collaboration is the first Swiss Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition ACE. By investigating snowflakes, the science project "quantifying precipitation and its contribution to surface freshening in the Southern Ocean" seeks to understand the fundamental question of how much snow falls over the Southern Ocean. Better information on precipitation is critical to the improvement of atmospheric models for the Antarctic. The ACE scientists collected Formvar replicates of falling snow on microscopic slides for quantification of precipitation characteristics and amounts. They collected similar samples for the artist on plates 24 time the size of the microscopic slides, applying the Formvar solution with an artistic tool, a paint brush. In the context of an art exhibition, the artwork questioned the non-scientific audience regarding whether the scientists were involved in the act of creating in the same way an artist would be? When collecting the flakes on larger sheets of glass, did the scientists actually compose a picture?