WHO OWNS THE ARCTIC OCEAN?

The Legal Status of Ice is a project developed as a master thesisimage for the department of Information Design at Design Academy Eindhoven and exhibited during Dutch Design Week 2017.
    1. Listen to the Graduation Show podcast;
    2. Read a NRC article (in Dutch);
    3. Order the thesis book.

The Arctic is currently the centre of a contentious territorial dispute. The five Arctic nations — Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and the United States — all make their claims, sometimes as literally as planting a titanium flagimage on the bottom of the Ocean. The stakes are high: disappearing sea ice might uncover immense oil and gas riches for whoever marks the Arctic map first. But isn’t it in fact the ice, that has been declining by a shocking 50% since the late 1970s, which should be the urgent issue?
    The project visualises the race to the Arctic and all that is at stake in a huge 3D modelimage, that explores the overlapping border claimsimage by means of a projection. It compares these with geographic data of fluctuations in sea ice, oil and gas reserves, navigational routes and the geological formationsimage of the seabed. As the Arctic nations are trying to acquire more data to substantiate their claims, the model shows what is already known, revealing the importance of holding valuable geographic and geologic information. Overall, the project aims to demonstrate the cartographic colonialism behind the dispute and questions the notion of sovereignty in a region which should be perceived as a global commons.

The data displayed on the model has been retrieved solely from open data sources: Business Insider, Durham University (IBRU), IBCAO, NASA, NGA Arctic Open Data, NOAA, NSIDC, Sea Ice Index, USGS, WWF Norway.

About the author: Irene Stracuzziimage (b. 1992, Italy) is a graphic designer based in the Netherlands. She received her master’s degree (MA Information Design) at Design Academy Eindhoven (NL) in 2017 and her bachelor’s degree (BDes Design and Visual Communication) at Politecnico di Torino (IT) in 2014.
    Contact: info@thelegalstatusofice.com / irenestracuzzi.it