I've been working on some drawing / models ('drawdels') that get at the qualities and essence of the ice cuts, ie: looking at reflection, the two-and-a-half dimensional space between horizontal and vertical, etc. as well as some essays.
ICE CUTS: an index of abstraction
Cutting out a large shape of ice and suspending the positive not only signifies the ice as object, it also enters into an indexical dialogue between two oppositional conditions, that which is above and below. The slab protrudes into three dimensional space, referencing the negative as if to say that came from this, but this is bigger than that, so that other part must have gone somewhere below this. The trace only lasts for several weeks until the dark negative, which is merely a thinness of the surface, normalizes to the rest of the frozen thickness surrounding it. But until that point the ice object narrates a cause and effect; cut, shift, and freeze. The inextricably linked relationship between solid and void, or positive and negative, and even light and dark, engages in a spatial exchange that goes beyond the surface into a space that is obscured otherwise. The space it references operates as an abstraction within abstractions. The ice object is an abstraction of water, manipulated in such a way that it obfuscates itself and creates a third abstraction of an inaccessible space. And through this abstraction of a subterranean space, an other space is created in the mind of the subject.
It can be deduced that if the shape of the negative is twice as large as what reads as the positive, then we see only half of the positive above the surface, and can assume the other half is below the surface. And knowing that what we see is a chunk of ice bearing the same properties as the shape of negative (ie: continuous, uninterrupted, and coplanar), the chunk must do the same thing where we cannot see it. We can assume the ice object interrupts the space of the water below in the same manner as it does the air above. However the image of the ice as it appears to our eyes does not follow our systematic logic, and instead defies what we know of coplanar surfaces, and creates the effect of gently intersecting planes, which is an effect of reflectance through one medium to another or air to water. This is one read of what appears to be vs. what is.
The second read I would offer is the condition of the ice cut after several weeks –when the negative equalizes with the rest ice. No longer is there any trace of the positive intersecting with the negative, as the negative returns to an opaque gray, blending with the larger body of ice. What we might recall from science class is that the density of water is constantly oscillating as it narrows down to the point of freezing. Warm water rises to the surface (because it is less dense), cools from the air, and then falls back down to the lower depths where it is re-warmed. This process continues until the entire body of water reaches 4C, at which point the density of water reverses, or in other word the colder it gets the less dense it gets, and therefore stays on the surface, ultimately becoming ice. As the cold temperatures persist the ice freezes more, thickening the hardened surface.
But the water below is still 4C and so then it must be assumed that the negative protrusion of the ice object from above is submerged in water that is actually higher than the freezing point, and subsequently melts away. The condition that had previously been imagined below the surface is merely a spatial abstraction that does not exist. Yet the precision in which it describes space through an indexical relationship, and the image the subject can construct mentally is vivid enough to argue that it actually does exist, insofar as it elicits the same response from each subject. The fact that the subterranean ice object is merely made up is irrelevant as it carries with it a spatial experience as vivid as the real thing.