So, I’m in Iceland for a bit, continuing my “field studies” series/project (suite of works? ongoing saga? relentless meandering?) in this insanely and amazingly varied landscape. I’m currently situated in the north of Iceland at a wonderful artist’s residency called Listhús in the very small town (population appx. 800) of Ólafsfjörður. Prior to arriving here, I spent a couple of days based out of Reykjavik and traveled around the southern portions along the Ring Road to the famed glacial lagoon Jökulsárlón, surrounded by Iceland’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull. Any rate, I don’t have a particular plan for the nature of my work while I’m here – as usual, I’m looking/thinking/responding. I expect I’ll amass a fairly large archive of still images and video clips that I’ll get to spend a lot of time working with back home in the studio. I’ll fiddle with things a bit while I’m here, and will post a smattering of stuff, to offer a sense of what I’m being drawn to.
So far, I’ve been really intrigued by the almost hallucinatory effect the landscape is having on me – I don’t necessarily mean the perceptual illusions that result from immeasurable and/or difficult to discern distances, or tricky mirage type effects (although that’s part of it) but more so the disconcerting feeling of simply being out in the space. Part of it has to do with the otherworldly qualities of particularly barren spaces or those dotted with anthropomorphic forms – but as well, there is something about the intense presence of geologic time surrounding you at every glance – up/down/forward/back. And, for someone as clumsy and uncoordinated as myself, wandering around and within these hills - and much further up into mountains than I’ve ever been inclined to go before – produces a bit of vertigo and, in some instances, outright fear (the random encounters with various wildlife has contributed to that as well).
Anyway, here in Ólafsfjörður, I’m looking a lot to the ground and sky, and thinking about reflection and refraction as well as diffraction, I suppose – there is something really intense about the hot, white of the snow coating the mountain tops and how its appearance can shift so drastically depending on what’s hitting it (the really close by sun ball) or what’s covering it (various layers of cloud, mist, ocean air). And sometimes the streams that run down from the mountain gush so quickly they turn white too, at least from afar. And then the larger pools of water (the lake, the pond, the ocean) serve as mirrors, or secondary skies.
Noticing this led me to think about incorporating common, man-made materials that share these visual qualities into some of the images. So far, I’m fiddling around with tin foil, bits of sheer, semi-translucent plastic and crystals of sugar. As I generally do, I’m capturing imagery in a relatively straightforward manner and am also toying around with materials in the field and in my make-shift studio in the residency apartment.
Lastly, I’m trying to think about linking this space (and this imagery) to my other "field studies" (Goldfields and Airfields) and am thinking about the commonality of earth chunks/dirt and the piled forms it gathers in, and have decided to read a few books that deal specifically with mountains in one way or another. I’m venturing into territory I don’t normally go (such as sci-fi with an H.P. Lovecraft novella, At the Mountain of Madness, as well as a bit more mystical style with Rene Daumal’s Mount Analogue – the book that Jodorowsky’s Holy Mountain was based on, yeah, I know, very unlike me…). But, I’m starting with Nan Shepherd’s, The Living Mountain, which is (I gather) a bit more of the nature writing/philosophy type. As well, I’ve got a book of Icelandic Folk Legends I’m dipping into.
So yeah, that’s where I’m at right now. As I said, I’ll post some images into various groupings now and then, and more when I get back to the states. A few single images are below – I’ll end up combining these with others, or similar versions, and will post those combinations as I work them up…
Click on images for larger view.
Click on images for larger view.