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Artist installs phone link to a dying glacier

The creaking and splashing sounds of Europe's largest glacier slipping into its icy ocean grave are just a phone call away after an artist installed a microphone in its surrounding waters.
(FILES) A file photo taken 13 July 2006
Iceland's Vatnajokull glacier has been retreating quickly in recent years. An artist hooked up a microphone inside the ice, and amplified the sound to allow callers to hear the glacier disintegrate.Marcel Mochet / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: Reuters

The creaking and splashing sounds of Europe's largest glacier slipping into its icy ocean grave are just a phone call away after an artist installed a microphone in its surrounding waters.

Katie Paterson was moved to set up the line after hallucinating about the giant Vatnajokull glacier during a bout of fever.

The link encourages people to connect emotionally with the glacier, she said from her tent on the Icelandic shoreline.

"It is really poetic: a river of ice slowly disintegrating, quite discreetly, quite invisibly. Sheets of ice are constantly slipping off, huge bits cracking, moving very slowly.

"It is sad to see a vanishing world."

Paterson, a final year student at Slade School of Art in London, decided to use the phone line after her fever-induced hallucinations during a previous trip to Iceland.

The 25-year-old imagined that the liters of water she drank during recovery were making her feel part of the nearby glacier, which supplied the water.

Climate change is having a damaging affect on Vatnajokull but the project is more about the glacier's grandeur slipping away, she said.

With the help of sponsors, Virgin Mobile and Dolphinear, Paterson was able to drop a hydrophone into the icy lagoon where the glacier is disappearing and pick up the sounds, such as water dripping and running through a crevasse.

The waterproof microphone is linked to a phone and amplifier housed in a tent on land.

The work, entitled "Vatnajokull (the sound of)", will continue until June 13.

Only one caller at a time can get through, which was deliberate so people can have a "one-to-one beautiful and intimate moment" with the glacier, she said.

Calls to the number — from the United States it's 011 44 775 822 5698 — are charged at international rates.