Category Archives: Mdes

Antarctica project: editing begins

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The wall of my MDes office is slowly being taken over by small prints from the Antarctica: Sixty Shades of White project. It represents a tiny proportion of the 1TB of data, stills and video I collected while on The Ice in October. It is still very early days but at least five possible collections/projects are emerging … this will keep me going for years!

Sometimes Antarctica felt like a different planet…

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As this photo of Warren on the sea ice at Cape Evans illustrates, Antarctica can feel unlike anywhere else on the planet at times. When I saw him in all his survival gear casting this massive shadow in the midnight sun I instantly thought of the photos of the astronauts on the moon (thanks NASA for making them public btw). Two harsh environments where man goes to extraordinary lengths to survive – it was about -20˚c when I took this.

The dark “landmass” on the right is in fact an iceberg trapped in the frozen sea-ice.

Weddell Seal in Antarctica

A real highlight of our expedition to Antarctica was camping out on the ice with a team of scientists/divers at Cape Evens. And a highlight of that highlight was when we dropped a GoPro down one of the dive holes to get a glimpse of the world under the 2m thick sea ice.

Little did I know that seconds before I pulled the camera up a Weddell Seal cruised by to check out the rope (this footage has been edited because it sat on the bottom doing very little for a while).

Earlier that day Warren had dropped a hydrophone down the hole to reveal the constant chatter of the seals – wait until you hear what he captured! The background audio on this pales in comparison.

The divers cut a hole through the ice using a “heat drill” and park a modified shipping container over the hole to give them a sheltered work area.

Weddell Seals are now my favourite animal!

Antarctica project planning

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Now I have officially started my MDes (Masters of Design) and the pre-trip planning shifts into a different phase. For the past few months it has been total emersion into all things Antarctica, and looking at artist models, more recently research shifted to include the logistics of photography in sub-zero conditions so a gear list could be formed and any new equipment ordered. With those under control it is now into design strategy.

On the office wall a plan is evolving: some sort of hybrid diagram combining a content strategy and audience analysis with a media/distribution strategy sandwiched in between.

From this a number of possible directions will be identified and drawn up as journey maps.

More on the Antarctica #60shadesofwhite project

Compulsory family viewing in our house

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Once again Dad’s projects take over the O’Hara household … this time I command the TV for a few nights. I’m really looking forward to re-watching Marcus Lush’s series Ice. 

Marcus was onboard the HMNZS Otago with me on the Kermadec project and we had a couple of short chats about his trip to Antarctica. Little did I know I would be heading there a few years later.

Icy reading

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Life has become a blur of Antarctica research – this is a small sample of the small mountain of reading I have been doing on Antarctic history, science and the artists (particularly photographers) that have been there before me. For a full (and ever growing) list of my research reading visit my bibliography page.

Antarctica New Zealand have a comprehensive list of the artists and writers they have supported on the Alumni page of their website.

One of my favourite photographic discoveries so far is the book Frozen History: The legacy of Scott and Shacklenton Photographs of Josef & Katharina Hoflehner. Stunning black and white images of the historic huts taken with respect and a contemporary elegance.

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