Murmur: Arctic Realities presents a groundbreaking new experience by John Grade, one of the world’s leading contemporary artists. Visitors will encounter what appears to be a natural landform, a mound intricately carved from Alaskan yellow cedar. This vast sculpture represents a pingo, a hill of ice that grows over centuries in the Arctic’s highest latitudes, then collapses, pockmarking the tundra. Grade’s work replicates exactly a pingo in Alaska’s Noatak National Preserve, mapped by the artist using photogrammetry. Visitors will not only witness the pingo’s impressive scale, but will also be able to enter inside the sculpture as its walls open and close, mimicking the pingo’s lifecycle at a time when this is accelerating due to unprecedented environmental change.
The title Murmur evokes both the sound of Arctic wind and the shapes made by flocks of Arctic birds in flight. The installation will provide an experience in which people can virtually explore the interior of a pingo’s ice core and the unusual textures, flora and fauna of the landform.
Murmur incorporates the use of Microsoft’s HoloLens Mixed Reality technology. Grade will map fragments of Noatak’s landscape into the gallery so that visitors wearing a wireless HoloLens headset will see themselves within a holographic representation, one using visual images and spatialized sound of a precise geographic location 80 miles north of the Arctic Circle. By allowing visitors to traverse an Alaskan marsh in Connecticut, Murmur will revolutionize the public’s grasp of what a museum experience can be.
Mystic Seaport’s installation will be Murmur’s international debut and is made possible in collaboration with the Anchorage Museum.