Informed by changing climate, history and culture, I will use virtual reality imagery to capture the haunting isolated beauty of Greenland’s landscape, focusing both on the rapidly receding glaciers as well as the cultural changes in the extremely remote Inuit settlements of East Greenland. My interest is to expand on last year's photographic trip. The goals are to capture a feeling of loss and mystery revealed through the contracting ice, centered on the parallels between dramatic climate changes and culture.
Teaming with a Project61’s partner is crucial to this project. I lack the space, technical expertise, resources, and additional vision to conduct VR research and testing before executing the project on site in remote Greenland. More specifically, I need help strategizing on best options to capture still and moving images; a way to test various technologies and solutions locally; a review of technical options in low light situations; and ways to view and deploy the completed project. Also, I hope to offer creative insight into fine art’s approach to new image making applications as a company team member.
The project “Inertia,” continues to trace changes to land, ice and communities. With anticipated grant funding, I will photograph with a digital camera and VR one of the fastest retreating glaciers in the world, the Helheim glacier; the scarred landscape and newly exposed ground left in it’s wake; the dramatic and unique glacialquakes; newly formed rivers from the ancient ice melt; shrinking icebergs and ice floes; images of small Inuit settlements’ such as Tasiilaq, Kulusuk and the abandoned town of Tiilerilaaq in Eastern Greenland; Inuit ruins; and vast, empty landscapes with small traces of human intervention--all taken at dawn, twilight, or nighttime. To my knowledge, Greenland as well as these environmental changes have never been captured using VR.
East Greenland is one of the most isolated places in the world. But the recent impact to seal, whale and polar bear hunting due to melting ice lead to declining income, forcing many to move from small settlements. As a result of the unprecedented cultural upheaval, suicide rates and alcoholism spiked. Also set in this extreme isolation is one the largest and fastest retreating glaciers, moving at about three feet an hour.
Beyond documentation, however, these images crystallize a feeling of inertia taking place in the primordial landscape of Greenland.
As the raw land is exposed through the melting ice--as if a cultural truth is being unearthed--I feel there is a link between environment and culture. Just as Inuit life seems to be quiety abandoned in a churning retreat, so too is present day ice melting mostly forgotten. In both cases, there is a feeling of absence, impending human failure, tragedy, and the crushing force of nature being played out in a desolate place. I want to capture the immensity of the space in ethereal light, revealing both a lyrical beauty and inexorable horror in it’s destruction. I want to use VR this feeling of loss, discovery and change.
Although this is a fine art image-based project, it is informed by history, culture, science and the environment; VR’s immersive experience bridges all of these. To my knowledge, this technology has never been applied in this way before.