88 Cores descends two miles through the Greenland ice sheet in one continuous pan. It is a time machine that transports the viewer through 110,000 years of climate history, which can be read in the banding and the trapped particulates of seasonal snowfall.
To generate her four-and-a-half-hour video, Weil worked with the National Science Foundation Ice Core Facility (NSF-ICF) in Lakewood, Colorado, to digitize 88 cores from the Greenland Ice Sheet Project (GISP2D). These scrolling stills extend our view into the deep time and space of climate change and immerse us in a sublime pictorial field. According to Weil, “88 Cores is one of a series of extended landscapes—looking beyond the view out the window or in front of our eyes—to a broader understanding of the earth as including the ground beneath our feet and the atmosphere; the Underscape and the Overscape.”
Since Greenland was the subject of a recent diplomatic incident between the Trump administration and Denmark (with Denmark pointedly refusing the president’s unexpected offer to purchase Greenland), it bears noting that American geopolitical interest in the region dates back to the Cold War. In the 1950s, unbeknownst to Denmark, the United States covertly initiated Project Iceworm, which involved the construction of a subterranean missile storage and launch infrastructure beneath the Greenland ice sheet. As the historian D. Graham Burnett has noted, ice core science emerged from this classified operation: “the real history of the scientific study of ice architecture in general—and ice coring specifically—is inseparable from the military ambitions of the nuclear superpowers.”
Peggy Weil lives and works in Los Angeles. The cores in 88 Cores were drilled from 1989 to 1993.