Polar Zero: climate science-art collaboration

Polar Zero: climate science-art collaboration

Polar Zero forms a major part of British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) multi-media engagement plan for COP 26.  This immersive exhibition, was on display at Glasgow Science Centre from early October 2021 and throughout COP26, (31 October – 12 November 2021).

Polar Zero was designed to showcase UK and scientific and artistic leadership within an international context.  Its narrative is matched to the COP26 theme for adaptation and resilience.

A person standing in a room
Welcome to Polar Zero

About Polar Zero

1765 – Antarctic air – a gift to the future

Polar Zero is a fusion of art, science and engineering.  Together Royal College of Art PhD student Wayne Binitie, British Antarctic Survey, and global engineering and design firm Arup, created a symbolic gift to the future.
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Ice core expertise – extracting a sample of gas from the year 1765. This was inserted into the glass sculpture
A group of people looking at a cell phone
Artist Wayne Binitie artist explains his sculpture to Cathrine Dormor (Royal College of Art) during a visit to the exhibition

Ice Core – a moment frozen in time

Exhibition visitors can touch a real Antarctic ice core and experience the sound of ancient air bubbles popping as an Antarctic Peninsula the core emerges from an insulated tube.  As it melts and drips away it marks – in an artistic sense – the fragility of the polar ice. Polar Zero identifies the British Antarctic Survey’s ice-core laboratory as a repository of scientific and cultural data that reflects humanity’s engagement with, and intervention in, the Polar Regions.
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Polar Zero Ice Core
Polar Zero Ice Core. The ice slowly melts in the Polar Zero installation

Ice Stories

How is the past written, read and made legible in the present? Online and exhibition content aims to engage new audiences and promote international research collaborations. Ice Stories draws on personal anecdotes, memories and oral testimonies from the national and international scientists and experts whose lived experiences of the Arctic and Antarctic facilitate and enable their narrative futures to be written.

ice stories composite
The unique experiences and perspectives of people who have worked with Antarctic ice are captured in the Ice Stories series. Credit: BAS.

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About COP26

This exhibition injects an artistic and cultural dimension to the climate negotiations at the Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26).  Its message is one of hope and optimism. At a time of accelerating global warming, rapid melting of glaciers and rising sea levels Polar Zero invites us to pause and reflect on humanity’s impact on our past, present and future climate.

From 1-12 November 2021, heads of state, climate experts and campaigners will gather at United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP26.  The COP is a summit of the 197 countries that form the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change or ‘UNFCCC’.

The summit, which takes place at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow, aims to agree coordinated action to tackle climate change.  As COP26 Presidency, the UK is committed to working with all countries and joining forces with civil society, companies and people on the frontline of climate change to inspire action ahead of COP26.


Polar Zero Collaborators