There’s a new sculpture spending this year on the Dartmouth campus, and it’s designed to make noise when it freezes. Icy weather has not been as dependable this year as its creators had expected. So the sculpture may move even farther north next year.
"Ice Chimes" rises 20 feet above the ground in front of the Life Sciences Building at Dartmouth. It looks like a modernistic two-storey gazebo. Metal pipes and strings hang from a wooden roof. They are supposed to freeze, bump into each other, and then drop chunks of ice noisily into a metal tub below .
The sculpture was partly inspired by Robert Frost’s poem, "Birches." Dartmouth Alumnus Keith Moskow, one of the designers, stands in front of the ice chimes and paraphrases Frost "….when he talks of the birch trees after the ice storm being clad in ice and then they crinkle and crackle and then the ice comes, quote unquote, shattering down."
But the problem, Moskow concedes, is that ice isn’t forming as often as he had expected, so the chimes are not crackling or dropping ice -not naturally. At least, not on this sleet-y day. So he gives one of ropes a little shove, and looks hopefully down at the metal bucket below.
"So here is one of the ice clad wires, we’re going to crinkle them together-it sounds a little more like a ship at the moment than an ice chime, and you are getting covered with ice, Charlotte, but it doesn’t want to come off the wires, so we are not having great success at the moment. But when you look in you can see crunched up ice within– so hopefully when that fell it actually made crackling and clacking music of sorts, " Moskow says.
That gives new meaning to the phrase "You gotta be there."
But where? Where will the next destination be for this eye-catching but not ice-catching public artwork, after it finishes its one-year gig at Dartmouth? Boston was a little too balmy for it last year, which is why it moved to the north country. Now Moskow and co-designer Robert Linn are eyeing Minnesota. Or maybe, if global warming persists, the north or south pole.
"Yes, but then would there be people there to appreciate it?" Moskow wonders.
Well, scientists from Dartmouth’s Institute of Arctic Studies do travel to some cold places. Maybe they could crate it up and take it with them. Meanwhile, it’s like a big outdoor barometer that’s fun to look at-and maybe, if the time is just right, to listen to.