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That Ever Elusive Future

Chantal Bilodeau

The Future

I have read dozens of reports and articles about climate change, and heard at least as many scientists talk. I can confidently say that I understand the basic science and that I am aware of the potential consequences of our actions. Yet that understanding hits me most profoundly when I am confronted with a piece of art that helps me not just understand but feel the impact of climate change.

I have been watching The Future melt for over two hours now, and every time a piece breaks off, a little piece of my heart breaks off with it. I have grown attached to this melting block of ice and feel, on a very small scale, the sense of loss that perhaps we are not allowing ourselves to feel on a much bigger scale. I am reminded that the future is both beautiful and fragile and that at a moment’s notice, it may fall apart. And I can’t help but think about the Buddhist teaching that says that we only ever have the present moment. The future never arrives. It is always out there, slightly out of reach. But its quality is forever determined by what we make of each moment.

By the end of the day, The Future  will be reduced to a puddle of melt water. But hundreds of people will have engaged with it: touched it, photographed it, talked about it, posted or tweeted about it. They may not remember or even know that we recently passed the 400 ppm threshold, or that the Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the world. But they’ll remember the poetry of a melting block of ice. Perhaps they’ll even be touched by it and shape their next present moment in a way that protects that ever elusive future.



James Sherry

I am nearing the end of my 2-hour residency at the melted_away ice sculpture at the Flatiron building but I wanted to talk a bit about risk because there’s a lot of fear around change. Culture provides the will to change, but it also inhibits change by giving us models we are familiar with, that make us comfortable. So there is risk in change. The question is do we want to control that change and control the risk? Or do we want to let the change take place and avoid responsibility? So often we act and make things worse, so there’s a lot of reason to let change take place rather than act to make things worse.

Since, however, we are always acting, let us act on our own behalf and make those changes with risk in mind. Here at the Flatiron, Nora and Marshall are letting the words THE FUTURE melt_away. THE FUTURE will be gone by 11pm tonight. Expand that time frame and our inaction on climate change, allowing only the destructive elements of corporate development to act, and our civilization will melt_away. Can we think of an alternative action? The Anthropocene ice sculpture stands for THE human FUTURE. The planet will be fine without us. It’s time to come together to act. The Climate March raises awareness for decision makers that we are not silent; we are prepared to act; we expect them to act in accord with our interests, our long term interests.


Social Environment

James Sherry

At the beginning of the Humanist era, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote about a society where everyone was defined by their jobs: the knight, the squire, the priest, the housewife, the nun, and each had a separate story. In the environmental age people will start to identify themselves with how they view nature and all the stories have a common thread. Nature can be a cornucopia driven by our skills. Or we can passively receive its bounty, living from the fruits of other’s labor. We may think we cannot effect the world and hide away improving ourselves. All these different social beings contribute to arresting climate change, each in their own way. And we are not one thing as in humanism. Our view of nature changes as we do different things, washing dishes, skiing, working in the office…

Our common thread: humanity and nature as a single complex entity. As long as we continue to think of humanity as separate from nature, our solutions will be partial and their effects minimal. Social change drives climate change. We are both separate individual organisms and united by society and ecosystem. Michael Thompson is the inspiration for this thought.


Hot of the Presses

Just finished printing this beautiful 18 x 24 inch full-color offset broadside for the Dawn of the Anthropocene Future ice sculpture this Sunday, September 21.

We’re giving the poster away for free during the event from 10 AM to 10 PM.

As the Future disappears, we felt the need to leave behind and give a message to inspire others for continued commitment to solving the climate crisis.

We found a wonderful passage from Rachel Carson, author of the pioneering book Silent Spring which ignited environmentalism and a statement from Rebecca Solnit on the importance of amplifying individual actions into the power of many.


The Future In Ice – Launches 9.21.14

The Future

Dawn of the Anthropocene Rendering

On Sunday, September 21, 2014 we’re launching Dawn of the Anthropocene a 21-foot wide ice sculpture weighing 3,000 pounds of the words “The Future.”

We’ll be filming and photographing the temporary monument as it melts away and will stream the video live on this website meltedaway as well as provide the video for other organizations to embed.

Journalists, poets and writers will be participating in short term residencies throughout the day.



New Ice Sculpture NYC September 2014

Dawn of the Anthropocene

On the morning of September 21, 2014, we will install a 3,000-pound ice sculpture of the words The Future at the intersection of Broadway and 23rd Streets at Flat Iron North Plaza in New York City. This public art work coincides with the U.N. Climate Summit and the Peoples Climate March to underscore the necessity for immediate action to confront global warming.

We plan for The Future, measuring 21 feet wide and 5 feet tall, to melt away. During this process we photograph and film the installation’s disappearance posting it on the internet in real-time. This event overlaps many art forms, it’s part sculpture, part installation, part performance, and an internet media event. But most of all, we make art for social change installing temporary public sculptures to mark important historical events. The Climate Summit is that and more.

We’re calling the piece, Dawn of the Anthropocene to describe the effect of humanity on the Earth’s systems. The term comes from Nobel prize scientist Paul Crutzen. In his and other scientists’ view, humanity has entered an age when the power and impact of humans is as great, if not greater, than nature’s.

When you begin to witness the rapid changes occuring on the planet, rising températures, increasing droughts, the extinction of vast numbers of species, you think about loss and disappearance. Ice is the perfect material for bringing awareness of what that kind of change means.

This project follows our earlier ice projects which we call “temporary monuments.” In 2008, we installed ice sculptures of the words Democracy at the political conventions, Economy on the 79th anniversary of the Great Depression, and Middle Class in 2012 in Charlotte and Tampa. (World Policy Institute.) These ice sculptures materially underscore the impact of political and social ideas that often escape the public’s attention.

Please support this project