Archive: Issue No. 119, July 2007

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Amanda Rodrigues Alves

Amanda Rodrigues Alves (Brazil) filming the
first polar expedition of the I-TASC team.


The foundation stone of the planned Antarctic station, Ladomir.

I-TASC launches its 2007/2008 projects

An interesting group of jaded art critics, business-like engineers and enthusiastic artists gathered at the launch of I-TASC's projects for 2007/2008. I-TASC (Interpolar Transnational Art Science Constellation) is the brainchild of South African Thomas Mulcaire and Marko Peljhan who decided to exploit their art backgrounds whilst venturing into an area most artists leave well alone - science, engineering and technology. Theirs is a utopian project that brings together individuals and organisations sharing knowledge, resources and skills.

'Makrolab', Peljhan's self-contained living and working environment that is designed to withstand harsh conditions and have minimal effects on the surroundings, has been exhibited around the world as well as at the Venice biennale and Documenta. This, the most well-recognised project of the group, was retired last year as the group set their sights on the next challenge - the unremitting conditions of Antarctica and the Arctic.

For us navel-gazing art critics, the connection between a polar expedition and art seems as remote as the location itself. And indeed the project poses a challenge to traditional concepts of art being so thoroughly involved with energy systems, waste processing, water generation and recycling systems - rather than the usual modernist mantra of 'art for art's sake'. However their utopian dream to create 'the universal landscape of the future through the destruction of the old world and its synthesis with the new' is based on ideas propounded by Russian Futurist Velimir Khlebnikov and is itself the realisation of the vision of the 20th century avant-garde. This is the 'machine for living' envisioned by Le Corbusier in 1923.

For Mulcaire and Peljhan this does not just involve cheaper houses and apartment blocks but hybrid renewable energy systems, communication and remote sensing in the most extreme climatic conditions. 'Communication, weather and migration are seen as three multiple-dynamic global energy systems which can be explored to understand how our planet functions on natural, social and technological levels, and the structures inherent in each can in turn be applied as primary sources for new, more symbiotic attitudes and strategies towards energy production and use, with implications for both local and global economy.' They hope that after the successful testing of the systems, the station will enable art and science projects to be conducted by transnational crews for the next 10 years.

Mulcaire and a team spent from December 2006 to February 2007 with the South African Antarctic Base conducting a survey for possible locations for their materials testing module (LICHEN) and their Antarctic Base. Whilst in the Antarctic they set up an FM radio station that will officially start broadcasting on December 1, 2008. This will allow the team that takes residence in the Antarctic to keep the public informed of their progress and discuss other energy and climate change issues.

The second team will be departing shortly to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment and Systems Installation and Testing Expedition. The base itself will only be constructed in the 2008/2009 season.