The next day was the McMurdo Alternative Art Gallery event and a few of us were determined to participate. (Photos sprinkled throughout this post.)
A few days earlier, some scientists from UTIG finished up their project. They had dropped a robot through a borehole in the ice and drove it around in the ocean under the ice shelf taking video of the bottom of the shelf and the creatures that lived down there, a place that’s incredibly hard to get through it’s far from the ice edge and the ice is more than 100 ft thick.
We ended up projecting the video on the wall in the Carpentry shop where the event was held. Around it, we hung up old army blankets and sheets we found to enclose the space as though you were under the ice (and also to keep out the light shining through the window). We also hung up the mockup of the robot that was used as an initial field test of the system. Attached to the mockup was a GoPro to record people’s reactions during the exhibit. The finishing touch was a gap we made at the bottom of the veritable blanket fort that you had to crawl through to get inside.
We finished the construction just in time to change into some nicer clothes and head over to Christmas dinner. One of the students who had travelled with me, had volunteered to help in the galley before Christmas dinner, so several of us agreed to meet at the same time and also volunteer. I showed up about 10 minutes late (oops!) and ended up filling salt and pepper shakers and napkin holders. I was with one of the other people in the group, but the other 2 people we were meeting seemed to be nowhere in sight. We figured they must not have shown up for some reason. After about 20 minutes of filling shakers, it was time for the second shift of Christmas dinner so we grabbed a table and got in line for food.
Later at night, we discovered where our friends had been: doing dishes for 3 hours in the back of the kitchen somewhere. Apparently we really lucked out by showing up late so they just stuck us doing whatever they could find at the moment. Still, I don’t think those napkin holders had ever been more full.
Christmas dinner was amazing. So many cookies and desserts (including buche de noel!) not to mentioned stuffed lobster and fresh bread. After dinner, we headed over to MAAG. There are a ton of super creative people in McMurdo, so there were a lot of amazing pieces of art and interesting things made out of unlikely materials.
Because all of the trash on the ice has to be carefully sorted and shipped out periodically, recycling is a huge deal. Some people do their part by turning a lot of the miscellaneous scraps into cool art around the station. MAAG was a great example of the talented people who end up in McMurdo with spare time on their hands.
Unfortunately I didn’t get any good pictures of our display, but it was a huge hit. I wasn’t sure if people would avoid it because it required some work to get inside, but from what I could tell no one was deterred. Day two on the ice was a success.