Artist designs virtual reality without ice caps for Sculpture by the Sea

SUTHERLAND Shire artist Simon McGrath hopes to send a chill through people’s veins when they visit Sculpture by the Sea at Bondi.

Mr McGrath’s installation is sponsored by Greenpeace and is around the theme of melting polar ice caps.

Not so much a sculpture as an app, the installation allows people to scan a registration marker with their iPhone to see an imaginary virtual iceberg floating off Bondi on their phone screen.

Mr McGrath describes the installation, Virtually Melted, as a piece of ‘‘augmented reality’’.

His previous work in the 2011 Sculpture by the Sea, a giant faucet and taps on the cliff at Bondi, was meant to make people view the ocean as a sink.

That piece, entitled Who Left the Tap Running, created a stir, with Crown Prince Frederik and Princess Mary of Denmark posing in front of it.

His latest installation is a response to recent research by leading ice expert, Peter Wadhams. The Cambridge University professor predicts the Arctic polar ice cap will have melted by the summer of 2015-16.

Others suggest 30 years or as late as the end of the century.  

Mr McGrath said his  work is a response to the research.

‘‘The environment is a theme that carries through all my work,’’ the father-of-three said.

‘‘Research says there is debate about whether the ice caps are melting but the Professor has gone out on a limb with his prediction,’’ he said.

‘‘This installation is to connect people with the issue, not to make them panic.

‘‘There is a role for art to connect the public with science. Scientists aren’t good at connecting.They have all this information but are not creative in the way they express it.

‘‘Sculpture by the Sea is a big public exhibition and I am using it to encourage people to connect with the issue of melting ice caps and rising sea levels.’’

Sculpture by the Sea Bondi 2013 opens on Thursday October 24 and runs until November 10, featuring 100 artworks from Australia and international artists.

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