A unique work of art, unveiled today, invites viewers to phone a glacier in Iceland - and listen to its death throes, live, through a microphone submerged deep in the bitterly cold lagoon which relays the splashes, creaks and groans as great masses of melting ice sheer off and crash into the water.

The dying glacier sounds clearer than the snuffly artist, Katie Paterson, who has been camping out in torrential rain and bitter cold installing the piece.

The visible tip of the project in Britain is her neon sign in the Slade gallery, London, part of her degree show, which gives the mobile number 07758 225698, from which anyone can call and make direct contact with the polar icecap, and Vatnajokull, the largest though rapidly eroding glacier in Europe.

"This lagoon is a graveyard of glaciers," Paterson said yesterday, from her tent by the water. "In a way there is something heartbreaking about this, knowing that you are listening to something magnificent being destroyed - but it is also very beautiful, a celebration of nature."

She became obsessed with glaciers when she became ill on a previous visit to Iceland. Hallucinating with fever, she imagined that the litres of water she drank were making her part of the nearby glacier which supplied the water. Her previous work includes recording the sound of melting icebergs on a long playing disc, then using water from the glaciers to make a frozen cast - which did actually play and reproduce the sound until it began to melt.

She won sponsorship and technical help from Virgin Mobile to produce this more complicated piece, which invoved sinking a waterproof microphone into the lagoon, linked to a phone on land. Only one caller at a time can get through: Paterson recommends the small hours of the morning.