This 3 screen synchronized video installation was shot using a high speed phantom camera. The Aesthetic of Terror in the case of The ice above, the fire below is nature itself, and by suggestion this terror is caused by man. This work addresses the increasing and uncompromising global threat caused by a deluge of melt water.
From the essay “The ice above, the fire below - through a glass darkly”
by Rachael Thomas / Senior Curator: Head of Exhibitions - Irish Museum of Modern Art
“Clare Langan’s new video work, the ice above, the fire below, 2008, conveys this utter sensitivity to the authority and power of nature. The work refers, both in title and subject matter, a unique geological paradox whereby the two opposing natural forces of fire and ice operate in tandem to create, alter and ultimately destroy a dramatic physical landscape. This occurrence takes place amidst the frozen landscape of Iceland. Parts of the landscape are epic sheets of ice that sit above a mantle plume-, underneath a column of hot rock rises from the depths of earth and feeds volcanoes with lava. Here the mountains and valleys are sculpted through the interplay of the mantle's molten rock, which builds volcanoes, and the glaciers' solid water; resulting in an eruption of the island's ice-covered volcanoes. The upwelling lava meets hundreds of feet of ice, which produces a powerful surge of melt water. The resulting impact of nature has left Icelanders confronted by an almost biblical pestilence of fire, flood, and ice.
Life in this part of the world is governed less by time than by natures in clemencies, and thus by an unqualifable dimension which discards linear regularity. Progress moves in random patterns of eruptions, disaster and regeneration. Langan captures these catastrophic phenomena through abstracted high pitched images and chiaroscuro contrasts. In her visual brevity and apparent clarity, monochrome colours merge and reflect off violent rippling tones of black and deep green. There is a constant, shimmering sense of layered transparency. We are seduced by cascading torrents of the water, the luminous abstract vistas of waves crashing against cliff, and the close-framed landscape of rock. By slowing down time and turning the camera on its side,
Langan allows a deluge of ice from the flood-water to become materialsed, catching the essence of nature.”