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Giant Melting Vitruvian Man Spreads Ecological Awareness (VIDEO)

10/20/2011 04:00 pm ET | Updated Dec 19, 2011

Our ecological decisions contribute to the dwindling of sea ice worldwide, and Greenpeace is determined to fight this lying down.

A huge reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci's famous 'Vitruvian Man', entitled 'Melting Vitruvian Man', was layed out onto a once colossal stretch of Arctic ice. The 'Man' was constructed by Greenpeace-enlisted artist John Quigley and his team, using flattened copper, a material often used to create solar panels. The piece was installed about 500 miles from the North Pole on the ice sheet and was about the size of 4 Olympic swimming pools. Yet the poor 'Man' is melted along with the ice, and his diminishing stated was meant to remind us of the rapid pace of melting sea ice. This year the Arctic sheet is the third smallest it's ever been.

Though the material effects of the melting piece melting away are intense in themselves, the symbolism of Leonardo's work commands our attention as well. The 'Vitruvian Man', a symbol of Renaissance humanism as well as proportion, has traditionally been taken to depict the harmony between humanity and nature. When this symbol of perfect proportionality is no longer whole, Quigley's work contends, we are all in danger.

The crew took pictures of the powerful installation and then dismantled it, recycling and reusing the copper materials. Watch the incredible process below:

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