Ice(land), Ice(land), Baby!

So in January and February I am in away in Iceland on a two-month research residency working on a number of creative projects, finishing some (I hope) and starting some (for sure) and in development on more (no doubt). In January I am in residence at Gullkistan in Laugarvatn in Southern Iceland, on a sheep and horse farm next to a geothermal lake, and in February I am at Listhús in Ólafsfjörður, a herring village in the northeast of Iceland located at the mouth of the fjord Eyjafjörður. It’s an amazing opportunity to continue with work that draws inspiration from landscapes as a form of affective digital storytelling. Although the goal is to work on a number of projects, many Art Line related or inspired, I am also taking time to finish an article on augmented reality exploring the nature of “place,” “materialities,” and “reading differently” in the context of the “(Re-)Mapping Moby” project. It’s for a special issue of Convergence focussed on “Cultural Expression in Augmented & Mixed Reality” and co-edited by my colleagues Jay D. Bolter and Maria Engberg. I will be working from a distance with collaborators to finish a video installation version of the “(s)AND” project which will be shown as part of the Telling the Baltic exhibition in Rostock Germany (Feb-March 2013) and continuing on to Kaliningrad (April 2013).  Although we had hoped to work on an augmented reality version of the work for Rostock, we will save that for the “Mixing Realities Digital Performance Festival” to be held in Kalrksrona in May 2013, also as part of the Art Line project. (Another post will follow about the festival with more details.) The festival will include a variety of scholars and artists working across media in installations, exhibitions, performances, and seminars. I am also directing the festival, and so I have many hats to don, wonderous hats, fascinators even, if ever there were a more apt definition of the word. (Another post will follow about the festival with more details.)

One of the new projects I’m working on is a project called “iSLAND” which will be exhibited in the Marinmueum (Swedish Naval Museum) in Karlskrona in fall 2013. It’s another landscape-based work that works to forge connections between Iceland and Karlskrona through expressions of isolation, intimacy, and bridging watery-distance. I’ve included a full description below and a slideshow of just a few images (of the hundreds I’ve captured so) that have already begun to inspire me. This is a mystical magical place, where you are likely to encounter a rainbow, a geyser, a waterfall, a herd of horses in the yard, and a hot-pink sunset, all in the same day. iLike.

iSLAND: 

an experiment in intimate screens and touchable narratives

Project Leader: Lissa Holloway-Attaway

In this collaborative project, we are exploring alternative methods for digital storytelling via the use of the iPad. The goal is to make and tell a fictional story based on identities found in distant histories and landscapes surrounded and connected by water, ships, submarines, and submersibles. The story will be an artistic historical reflection on islands and sea cultures, in particular on Karlskrona and Iceland.

The iPad will be used both as a production tool and as an interface for displaying the story content. The touch screen capabilities of the iPad, as well as the “personal” nature of the hand-held screen is a key component in our research. The iPad touch screen provides “up-close and intimate connections” between the producer and the viewer/user and in our method of revealing the story, we will incorporate these elements. For our production methods, we will use the built-in iPad camera in a number of ways:  still photos, video, and augmented reality panoramas, for example. Also, we will use iPad applications for “filmmaking,” audio production, and artistic expression (particularly those developed to engage and explore touch and sensory input on iPad screens).

The project title “ iSLAND” suggests both the device used to produce and exhibit the project (an iPad) and references the content and the locations for the storytelling. This will be a personal (fictional) story of identity-making set in the converged landscapes of Iceland and Karlskrona, Sweden. In Swedish, “Iceland” is translated as “Island,” which in English means a land-mass surrounded by water. Both Iceland and Karlskrona are deeply connected to their physical nature of being islands. For Iceland, a remote island country on the border of the Northern Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, this suggests both isolation and uniqueness in its culture, people, and heritage. For Karlskrona, a small city comprised of more than 30 islands in the Baltic archipelago, this suggests a kind of scattering of identities over land and sea. The “i” then in our project title also hints at the personal identities an island can contain, as well as on human individuality and uniqueness. Drawing on old histories of sea culture and sea crossings (above the sea in ships, and under it in submarines), we will try to cross the waters and find cultural and historical connections.

The story will be revealed in a series of panoramic images (still images, video, augmented reality), audio expressions, (remixed texts, original poetry, music, and ambient landscape recordings), and text and video files. The content will use a mixture of languages (English, Swedish, Icelandic, German, Polish, and maybe more). The story will be accessed on an iPad where the user may select a series of clips, texts, and other media to  “touch” together the story. In the use of  augmented reality panoramas in particular, the user also will be required to hold, move, and physically interact with the screen in ways that highlight how contemporary digital media has moved beyond story-telling on the traditional page, computer monitor, or film screen.

This project is partially funded by Art Line, an EU project exploring digital art innovation in the Southern Baltic region. It will be developed in part during a two month research  artist residency by the project leader (Lissa Holloway-Attaway) in Iceland in January and February 2013. Following the residency, other collaborators in Sweden will work together to create the story and technology. The project will be exhibited in the Swedish National Naval Museum (Marinmuseum) in Karlskrona in Fall 2013.

Iceland Landscapes…

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