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Eagle Soars in Award-Winning Documentary and Exquisite Book

By BCEEAN Newsletter Staff

"Chasing Ice", a big–screen documentary which won the Sundance 2012 award for cinematography comes to theaters this fall—a "must see" film for Eagles. Produced, directed, and created by a team boasting multiple Academy Awards, the documentary follows renowned National Geographic photographer James Balog '74 and his crew on a life–threatening trek across the glaciers of Greenland, Iceland, and Alaska.

The expedition, conceived by Balog and dubbed "The Extreme Ice Survey," had a daring and unprecedented mission: to deploy high-resolution, time–lapse cameras in sub–zero Arctic habitats. If the cameras could withstand the harsh Arctic environment (an untested assumption), the resulting photographic images, assembled into time–lapse sequences, could capture a multiyear record of the world's changing glaciers.

"Chasing Ice" chronicles their journey, taking viewers to never–before–seen areas of the Arctic and providing visual evidence of climate change in action. Balog's hauntingly beautiful videos compress years into seconds and capture ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breathtaking rate.

Initially a skeptic about climate change, Balog took his first trip north in 2005 on an assignment from National Geographic. What he saw inspired him to conduct the most extensive photographic glacier study ever. Balog and his team installed time–lapse cameras in Iceland, Greenland, the United States (Alaska and Montana), and Nepal. With each camera clicking away every half hour of daylight year–round, Balog captured approximately 8,500 photographic frames per year. He supplements the time–lapse record with episodic repeat photography in the French and Swiss Alps, Canada, Iceland, and Bolivia. From this million–strong photo collection, he amassed the world's most stunning panoramic record of glaciers. His new book—Ice: Portraits of Vanishing Glaciers—gathers the very best of these images into a 288–page portrayal of a landscape that will never again be seen in its current form.

Eagles who attended the 2005 premiere of Balog's photography at the Boston College McMullen Museum of Art—"TREE: A New Vision of the American Forest"—will recall his talent for making scientific observations understandable, aesthetically compelling—indeed, inspirational—to nonscientists. When Balog earned BC's Annual Arts Council Alumni Award for Distinguished Achievement, McMullen Museum Director and Art History Professor Nancy Netzer observed: "Balog's powerful photographs have always broken new ground in capturing the 'story' that nature tells..." BC Fine Arts Department Professor Jeffery Howe, chair of the University's Arts Council, added:

"[His] impressive photographs make us keenly aware of the majestic beauty and fragility of the natural world. His background in science, mountaineering skills, and artistic vision gives him a unique perspective on the environment. As with all important works of art, his images evoke moral and spiritual reflections as well as aesthetic delight."

Balog has been a leader in photographing and interpreting the natural environment for three decades. His Extreme Ice Survey team is featured in the 2009 NOVA special, "Extreme Ice." Among Balog's accolades are the Heinz Award, the Aspen Institute's Visual Art & Design Award, and the Leica Medal of Excellence. He is the author of Extreme Ice Now: Vanishing Glaciers and Changing Climate, A Progress Report as well as six other books. His photos have been exhibited at more than 100 museums and galleries worldwide as well as in National Geographic, The New Yorker, and Vanity Fair. In 2009 he served as a NASA and U.S. State Department representative at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP-15) in Copenhagen. He regularly serves as a speaker to groups from elementary schools, Capitol Hill, major universities, and innovative corporations. We eagerly await his next visit to campus.

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