North of Everything

In September and October of 2013 I sailed from the Greenland Sea side of Svalbard, Norway, into the Arctic Ocean en route to the North Pole. The Arctic is simultaneously an isolating and an expansive environment which forced our crew of 27 - plus one dog – to rely on not just our eyes, which could easily be seduced by an Arctic Mirage, but on all of our senses. I needed more than just sea legs, I needed some sort of awareness of a moment by moment life.

 

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Good Old Fashioned Kite Drone

Because helium balloons don't stay airborne in the Arctic climate, I used a meteorological kite and a small homemade camera rig to document the environment below our ship as we sailed northwards. Unfortunately, the kite fell prey to a strong gust of wind and we were forced to shoot it down with safety flares. Footage was salvaged when we reeled the line back to our deck, and was later used to guide virtual camera movement in an environmental animation.

 

Pyramiden, Russia

Pyramiden, a Russian settlement and coal mining community on the archipelago of Svalbard, Norway, was founded by Sweden 1910 and sold to the Soviet Union in 1927.  Owned by the state-owned mining company Trust Arktikugol, who also owns the Russian settlement of Barentsburg, it was abandoned on 10 January 1998. Since 2007, Trust Arktikugol has been renovating the infrastructure in order to accommodate tourists.  There are currently no plans to renovate and reopen the whole settlement.