Donna Roberts on latest climate change report card:

Recent articles reviewing the Dissolve exhibition

Deeth, J., Review, 'Melissa Smith: Dissolve', Artlink, Contemporary art of Australia and the Asia-Pacific, Vol 32 No. 3 [2012] p.88

Quilliam, D., Review, 'Melissa Smith’s Dissolve', Imprint, Spring 2012, Vol 47, No. 3, p.23


New technologies increasingly expand methods used in art and science to make sense of our changing environment. Dissolve explores new digital technologies to make 2D and 3D prints. Prints are generated from scientific data of an important and endangered marine species, the pteropod (sea butterfly). When combined with traditional hand making and marking methods, the prints contribute an empathic response to otherwise purely scientific observations.


The sea butterfly is an icon of environmental fragility. As well as being a vital link in the marine food web, it plays a major role in regulating levels of C02 that fall into oceans from our massive burning of fossil fuels. The sea butterfly (and other marine organisms) that normally take up C02 in their shells, are stressed by the increasing levels. As their shells  become thin and brittle, their very existence is threatened.


Catalysts for the print experiments were an invitation to install new work at SAWTOOTH ARI in Launceston, Tasmania, and reading the paper, Krill looks and feelers: a dialogue on expanding perceptions of climate change data, The Polar Journal, Vol.1, Issue 2, 2011, pp.251- 264, co-authored by artist Lisa Roberts and scientist Steve Nicol.  



The tools and techniques used to make this body of work include a CNC Router, 3D scanner and printer, QR Code generator, a laser cutter, hand printing and perforations.


The project  also contributes to the Living Data initiative 

Living Data evolves through contributions made by scientists and artists whose common purpose is to make sense of climate change. Our stories, data, iconography and animations contribute to understanding the Big Picture. The Living Data Blog works to share our methods and comments as the project develops. An on-line interface will be designed to connect shared understandings as a model of a whole evolving system.

Contributions are presented at art and science conferences and exhibitions.


I thank the following people and organisations for their contributions to Dissolve.

Dr Lisa Roberts - Visiting Fellow, University of Technology, Sydney, Faculty of Design, Architecture and Built environment.

Dr Donna Roberts - Postdoctoral Fellow, Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre

Dr Jodie Bradby - Research Fellow in the Dept of Electronic Materials Engineering in the Research School of Physics and Engineering at the Australian National University‚Ä®

Prof Timothy Senden - Head of Department, Department of Applied Mathematics, Research School of Physics and Engineering at the Australian National University

Anthony Crawford - Design and Technology teacher, Scotch Oakburn College, Launceston, Tasmania in association with - School of Architecture, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania