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Glacier Trilogy – Part 1: a synthetic archive

#algorithmic #engaging #experimental #hypnotic #immersive #thought-provoking

Materials and media

large scale video projection





Cittadellarte - Fondazione Pistoletto July 1 - September 25 2022

Funded by


Residency at

Cittadellarte - Fondazione Pistoletto (IT)

Curator’s statement by Sofie Crabé (curator of STARTS4water exhibition at BOZAR, Brussels)

“Theresa Schubert developed a compelling, artificial intelligence-based audiovisual video projection that displays slowly emerging and dissolving synthetic mountain landscapes with glaciers… The collected data nourished three machine learning models. The machine learning algorithms transformed the data into an open-ended aesthetic collage. They assigned visual shapes to the meanings of words, revealing the glaciers in a new poetic way, while providing critical insight into the condition of the glaciers.”

During my residency ar Fondazione Pistoletto in Biella (Italy), I decided to focus on glaciers as starting points of fluvial systems. They hold an extreme importance not only as storages of water but also as a ‘memory’ of our earths past and indicators of climate change. In the ice embedded is information about climate from thousands years ago, radiation, pollution, organic materials – and a lot of it will melt away with climate change at hand. In my three works, I am looking at glaciers from a different perspective with various media technologies in order to stimulate an emotional engagement of the audience with these topics.

Re-imagining glaciers through AI or a synthetic archive of glaciers

This work is a video projection made by using a combination of machine learning models that shows the formation and abstraction of synthetic glaciers. Starting from abstract imagery, slowly mountain landscapes with glaciers start to emerge. They are based on an earlier training process with historical images of the Italian Glaciological Committee in Turin and the Sella Foundation in Biella in combination with text input from the Italian geologist Arduito Desio. Together with the visuals I created a dense sound composition consisting of field recordings, synthetic sounds and voice recordings done with an Opera singer. In the arrangement I layered the voice, sometimes as echos of each other, sometimes in a canon creating a doleful atmosphere.  What emerges are synthetic landscapes that don’t exist, a kind of machine dream from the future that tries to imagine what glaciers looked like in former times.

Rebuilding relationships with river systems presents the final works of artists Theresa Schubert and Joshua G. Stein, the result of their residencies within the project S+T+ARTS4Water (2021-2022), part of S+T+ARTS (Science, Technology and the Arts), an initiative of the European Commission promoted within the framework of the research and innovation programme Horizon 2020, supporting collaborations between artists, scientists, engineers and researchers.

Find out more about my residency and the development process on the STARTS4Water Journal.

Artist: Theresa Schubert
Colab implementation: Moises Horta Valenzuela based on StyleGAN, ESREGAN, VQGAN+CLIP
Voice & Singing: Joseph Schnurr

Physical resources:
Photo Archives of the Italian Glaciological Committee Turin and Sella Foundation Biella