Primary Tools & Materials:

Additional Tools & Materials: freezer, camera, lamp, glass pane

Today I attempted to photograph an R-shaped ice cube, and realized it's the first time I've created a letter that actively and rapidly deteriorates in front of my eyes. I'd say from removing the tray from the freezer to the last recognizable image was maybe a span of ten minutes. I had to work fast. I set up my camera and backdrop, let the lights warm up fully, then yanked the silicone ice try out of the freezer and ran back to my photo booth. 

In choosing my materials for this exercise, I had to choose between plastic and silicone ice trays, which was a fairly easy choice. I knew the plastic trays would make it difficult to remove the letters in one piece. I also wondered whether I should put a drop or two of food coloring into the trays, to avoid the same transparency issues I faced with my letter B made from water droplets. But in this case, since the letter would be a solid shape (to begin with), I decided to leave the water clear. 

This study can only be described as dynamic. When the letter first came out of the ice tray, it was frosty, solid, and opaque. Each time I touched the letter, it became shinier, so I could see the textures inside the ice cube, but this also made it melt faster. The letter would only stand up on its own, as in photo 1, for about a minute before it started to list and then topple onto its face. Once it created its own puddle (placed on a sheet of glass), it would start skating around all on its own, letting me know that my desk is not, in fact, level. When I picked up the sheet of glass to hold it over the light source, the underside of the glass developed a cloud of condensation in the shape of an R (see image 4). If I held the letter in my hand for a moment, I could watch drops of water roll off the bottom. And in the last photo, even when the upper left corner has melted away, I could still read it as a letter R. 

This behavior of rapid deterioration would be interesting to capture in the design of a live typeface. Perhaps the length of the word would dictate the degree of melting or eroding in the last letters. Or maybe a page covered in text would begin to "melt," line by line - frozen and crisp at the top, then shiny and smooth near the middle, and finally sharp, bumpy, and nearly illegible at the bottom. This exercise stressed me out because I had to take the photos so fast - I couldn't even slow down to see if I got a good shot. However, I think it's yielded some of the most interesting and diverse results so far. If I were to do it again, I'd do it outside on a chilly day to buy myself a bit more time.