Invisible Descent transports the viewer under the sea-ice in Antarctica to join an unseen diver as he descends into an alien world. Although he remains out of view throughout the video’s duration, we hear his laboured breathing and see the traces of his uncomfortable existence in this hostile environment.
The dynamic angular lines of the safety ropes connect the diver and the voyeuristic viewer to the primitively cut portal that connects this realm with the world above. The regular beeping of his dive watch reminds us that this visit is limited, while the unearthly sounds of unseen Weddell Seals mirror it’s electronic tonality.
This uneasy relationship between the human-made and natural worlds is a metaphor for our wider relationship with nature in a time when we are questioning our impact on the planet’s ecosystem.
This work is currently part of the “Invisible” exhibition which has toured Cranbrook Academy of Art in Detroit USA and BWA Gallery in Wrocław, Poland along with other researchers from CoCA. Due in New Zealand in late 2020.
NB: The online video has been reformatted to 16:9 ratio.
A very brief overview of the Where Memories Sleep Project including behind the scenes footage of production.
Where Memories Sleep is an immersive cinedance performance that is designed to introduce new audiences to Antarctica and the science undertaken there.
The installation, inspired by Jason’s trips to Scott Base in 2016 and 2018, combines live and pre-recorded dancers projected on to a bespoke glacier set and the fulldome at Wellington’s SpacePlace.
The project is a collaboration between Jason O’Hara (creative director, motionographer, documentary maker and scenographer) and Warren Maxwell (musician), and is supported by a team of professional dancers.
“LX” is a limited edition set of sixty photographic prints commissioned by Antarctica New Zealand to mark the 60th Anniversary of Scott Base in Antarctica.
While working with an ice dive team at Cape Evans, Antarctica in October 2016 I visited the nearby historic hut, most associated with Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s British Antarctic (Terra Nova) Expedition 1910–1913 and his second, and final, attempt for the South Pole.
I found stepping into that hut was deeply moving. Totally silent and dimly lit it stands preserved as if you are the first person to enter since Scott’s team deserted the place. So I decided to capture the feeling of visiting that moment rather than attempting to accurately document the site and artefacts, as many very good photographers have already done (notably the outstanding work of Jane Ussher in her book Still Life: Inside the Antarctic huts of Scott and Shackleton).
To recreate the mood, I lit the interior with torchlight and used my modern DSLR camera fitted with the lens from a 100 year old Kodak pocket camera. The lens is very similar to one used by photographer Frank Hurley on Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition which set out in 1914. It gives a wonderful soft quality to the images and adds a deeper connection to the ‘heroic’ era of Antarctic exploration.
For the commission I selected and crafted this diptych to form a stylised “LX” – the roman numeral for 60. An edition of 60 prints, to mark 60 years in the form of a roman 60. They are to be gifted to key staff and strategic partners. Antarctica New Zealand also commissioned a special edition consisting of two larger prints of the same image. One will be hung in their office in Christchurch and it’s pair to hang in Scott Base in Antarctica.
NIWA’s Drew Lohrer holds the safety line for ice diver Ian Hawkes as he works under the 2 metre thick sea-ice at Cape Evans in Antarctica. The divers cut a hole through the ice then position a modified shipping container over the hole to act as a dive base.
I was super impressed with these guys and their safety regime – the diver is in constant communication with the surface through a system of pulls on three rope Drew holds in a shaft of light through the containers only small window. It highlights these ‘lines of communication’ and that Ian was truely ‘in safe hands’
“We are getting weaker … and the end cannot be far’ #onthisday in 1912, Robert Falcon Scott wrote his last diary entry. This photo shows our first view on entering the darkness of his hut at Cape Evans. It was like walking into 1912.
Sometimes you have to ignore the brief, says renowned designer and artist Paula Scher. With a dry wit, Scher takes us behind-the-scenes on four landmark projects — from revamping MoMA’s identity to reinvigorating a Pittsburgh neighborhood through design — to illustrate how asking questions, pushing into uncharted territory, and doing something you’ve never done before leads to great work.
The Augmented Reality Sandbox allows students and the public to interact with a miniature landscape, sculpting mountains, valleys, rivers and even volcanoes, with off the shelf readily available parts.
Topographic maps are crucial tools used by geologists, geographers and adventurous hikers. A newly-built apparatus at UCLA makes topographic maps fun and interactive for everyone by projecting them in 3D.
A lone penguin makes its way through broken sea ice near Cape Royds in Antarctica. The wee fella showed such courage and determination as it worded it’s way over and around massive cracks to get to the colony on the cliffs behind where I took this shot.
Scott Base Field trainer Mike Lundin and Mike Rowe check out the sea-ice ahead of our Hagglund vehicles. Regular routes are marked with lines or flags that have been scouted out. Hazards like hidden or active cracks are marked with crossed flags and the field trainers check them out before driving over them. Cracks are often only visible as faint changes in the texture of the snow (see below) … if you’re lucky! In white out conditions visibility can make them completely invisible. Before crossing dodgy cracks they drill holes to expire the thickness and shape of the ice.
A three-for-one deal this Friday… just because I love the progression between the these shots.
NIWA diver Rod Budd trudges through a building wind to the field kitchen as he brings in gear from our field camp on the sea ice at Cape Evans, Antarctica. It would have been about -25°c but with wind chill easily more like -35°c.
In keeping with the historic theme created by my photo series “Into the light” featuring shots of the historic huts on Ross Island, this weeks FridayFoto is of one of our tents on the sea-ice at Cape Evans. After all this time the best tent design for Antartica is pretty much the same as what Scott and Shackleton over 100 years ago. Good design stands the test of time!
Shots of the historic huts in Antarctica – mostly from Scott’s hut and Cape Evans with a few from Shackleton’s Cape Royds thrown in. This is a working edit so will change over time.
Scott’s hut is the iconic base associated with Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s British Antarctic (Terra Nova) Expedition 1910–1913 and his second, and final, famed attempt for the Geographic South Pole.
I wanted to capture the feeling of visiting the hut rather than concentrating on accurately documenting the site and artefacts, after all, many very good photographers have done this already (including the outstanding work of Jane Ussher in her book Still Life: Inside the Antarctic huts of Scott and Shackleton). I found it quite liberating to know I could take a totally different approach. See her video from TEDx at the bottom of this page.
When we entered the hut it was very dark with snow covering many of the windows. We had to wear head-torches which created an eerie pool of light in the inky dark, revealing a small bit at a time. To try and get the feeling of the experience I shot with combinations of head-torch and snooted flash lighting and using my homemade lens on a modern Nikon DSLR. The lens is made with the element from a 100 year old Kodak pocket camera very similar to that used by the photographer from Shackleton’s expeditions, Frank Hurley.
This video of Jane Ussher speaking for the recent TEDx Scott Base gives a fantastic heartfelt context to the place, her work and then how my photos contrast to her work.