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.
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!
Warren played a short gig at the bar in New Zealand’s Scott Base in Antarctica as part of our visit there. This is a short sample of what he played. Sean Tracey joined us from McMurdo Station (the American base) to play harmonica.
It was magical moment at the base with most of the personnel crammed into the small bar with guests from the nearby McMudo Station. Huge thanks to Scott Gilbert for bringing over the guitar etc.
One of the first things you do when you visit Scott Base in Antarctica is to go “field training” where you learn survival techniques and spend a night camping in -20ºc.
After two hours driving in the Hagglund tracked vehicle we arrived at our camp site with Mt Erebus standing guard. We slept in tents very similar to those that Scott used and made a cooking area with blocks cut from the snow. The Field Trainers from Antarctica New Zealand were superb. That wonderfully New Zealand combination of friendly and relaxed but totally on to it and experienced.
So join Warren and I on a very quick, lighthearted look at camping 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.
After three days of planning, weighing, rationalising and packing our gear is just sneaking in under the 25.5kg weight limit for flying to Scott Base in Antarctica. Not everything has made the final cut but most has. A huge proportion of this mountain is batteries because the life of batteries plummets dramatically in such cold conditions.
After much research I have opted to take a Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera as my principal video camera. Although it shoots at a maximum resolution of 1080p it records in RAW and ProRes formats with a very wide (13 stops) dynamic range. It’s tiny form factor will suit a “run and gun” style of documentary while still being a very robust unit in a Camtree Cage. It’s two big weaknesses are it’s sound quality and battery life. I’m planning to overcome these issues with an external mic going through an A Box preamp and the primary audio being covered in a separate Zoom Recorder. As for batteries … well I’m bringing heaps for a start but also planning to use an external pack which I can even wear under my jacket to keep warm if I need to. Another plus of the BMPCC is the ability for me to use Nikon lenses on it via the very impressive Metabones Speed Converter. It even uses the same battery as my Nikon Coolpix A which will permanently travel with me as a pocket camera.
Stills (and backup video) will be primarily covered by my old faithful Nikon D800 – also fitted with an external battery pack. POV and underwater shots will be covered by GoPro Hero 4.
Hot on the heals of watching Marcus Lush’s “Ice” I watched Nigel Latta in Antarctica. Both are excellent, easily digestible introductions to Antarctica, Scott Base and Antarctic science. The demise of our local video shop posed a challenge to getting “Ice” but fortunately I was able to get it out through Massey University Library. Latta’s two programmes are very easy to access via TVNZ On Demand free of charge.
Jonathan Harris is an artist and computer scientist from Vermont.
I find his work very interesting but he regularly falls into the trap of the interface overpowering the content – something I specifically want to avoid. An example is the whale hunt interactive which is extremely clever but I prefer the highlights page from the same interactive
His work is in the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art, and has been exhibited at Le Centre Pompidou (Paris), the CAFA Art Museum (Beijing), the Barbican Center (London), the Victora and Albert Museum (London), and The Pace Gallery (New York). He studied computer science at Princeton University and spent a year in Italy at Fabrica. The winner of three Webby Awards, Print Magazine named him a “New Visual Artist,” and the World Economic Forum named him a “Young Global Leader.” His TED talks have been viewed millions of times.
Exploring and celebrating 60 years of Scott Base, this project aims to connect new audiences with Antarctica by allowing them to experience the life and work at Scott Base through the eyes of the scientists, explorers and personnel that have been there. Details of the project outputs will evolve over the course of the project but are likely to involve multi-channel immersive video instillation, photography and other online videos.
The working title of the project is “Antarctica: 60 shades of white”. Watch for the hash tag #60shadesofwhite on my Twitter feed
This project will be the subject for my MDes project at Massey University’s School of Design for the next two years and many other outputs beyond that I’m sure. Details of exactly when and how long I ‘m going to The Ice so watch this space for more detail.
I have set up a project page on the site where I will document progress.
They have created a powerful piece that responds to the works and tells the history of Raoul Island. Very talented people – very moving. I am happy to say they will be performing at the new Kermadec Exhibition in Wellington in April.