About Michael Gould

Musicians, composers and artists Michael Gould, Stephen Rush, and Marion Tränkle have collaborated with climate scientist Henry Pollack to create a multimedia installation that depicts a precarious moment in the history of Earth’s climate. Part science, part music, part art, this collaboration is a thought-provoking and compelling multisensory experience.

The installation takes its inspiration from Henry Pollack’s book A World Without Ice. The sonorous palette of the installation is two-fold: an original composition by Stephen Rush with musical patterns derived from a century of climate data, accompanied by ice melt-actuated instruments created by Michael Gould. These novel instruments are suspended ice domes melting drip-by-drip onto an array of differently tuned and amplified concert tom-toms. A film by Marion Tränkle blends beautiful photographs from both the Arctic and Antarctic, to provide a slowly evolving large-scale visual framework for the installation. The musical composition carries the listener through more than a century of variability in Earth’s average temperature, the randomly dripping ice yields an eerie and natural companion sound, and the film provides a stunning visual immersion.

The overall narrative of the imagery takes the viewer from a totality of ice, slowly evolving into landscapes of ice, land and water, eventually to reach a global ocean that characterizes Earth without ice. The presence or absence of ice at a given location on Earth is governed by both natural and human factors that affect the atmosphere, ocean and land surface. These factors include sunshine, clouds, and precipitation, influenced in places by the processes of agriculture and urbanization.

The exhibit creates a unique space in which viewers can contemplate Earth’s climate and shape their own perspectives of this ongoing worldwide environmental change.

Michael Gould, Stephen Rush and Professor Emeritus Henry Pollack are all colleagues at the University of Michigan.