About the Antarctica: #60shadesofwhite project

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Our campsite on the sea-ice at Cape Evans

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.

PRELIMINARY RESEARCH QUESTION

How might photography and video be combined with audio soundscapes and digital media to create a suite of creative outputs designed to engage new audiences with Antarctica and the science being undertaken at Scott Base?

PROJECT OVERVIEW

Early in 2016 I submitted a proposal to the Antarctica New Zealand as part of their Community Engagement Programme – a scheme which presents me with a unique opportunity to continue my wider research objectives and extend on past projects, most notably “Kermadec”.

As a result of my successful application, I travelled to Antarctica’s Scott Base with my project collaborator and fellow CoCA tutor Warren Maxwell in October 2016. We spent 10 days on The Ice working with a the scientists and personnel there.

AntarcticaNZ has a mandate to actively engage the people of New Zealand with it’s activities – my proposal to them was focussed on finding new ways to do that. The project has been approved by the AntarcticaNZ board and as a result I am confirmed as going to Scott Base this summer (2016/17).

This project will be the subject of my MDes research at Massey University, School of Design.

Based on pre-trip research, I intend to select a cross section of Scott Base personnel to work with before, during and after my own trip to The Ice. I will then distill their impressions, insights and emotions into snapshots of their experience of Antarctica and their reasons for being there.

The resulting research, photographs, videos and sound bites will then be complied into a suite of creative outputs with an overall narrative. I foresee a two tier structure comprising artistically driven ‘hooks’ accompanied by more detailed documentation of the underlying scientific and environmental work.

The selected insights could vary from first impressions of Antarctica, getting there, day to day life or their passion for their work. In many cases I expect we would hear them speak in their own words and I would create the visual interpretation to accompany it.

WHY ANTARCTICA?

I have always had a passion for science, adventure and the outdoors so the prospect of going to Antarctica and telling it’s stories is a lifelong dream – but why should anyone else care?

In May 2016 I attended the NZARI “Winter School” featuring some of New Zealand’s leading climate scientists . At that symposium it became very clear the importance the Antarctic plays for scientific research, especially climate research. Trapped in it’s pristine frozen environ is a record of our planets climate past. That combined with the research being undertaken on how global warming is affecting ice melt means that “Antarctica science” is in fact “world science” and is of importance to everyone.

New Zealand also has an interest in protecting it’s claim on the continent as recognised in the Antarctic Treaty by being seen to be actively involved in projects on the continent.

THE PROGRAMME

The AntartcticaNZ Community Engagement Programme (formerly the Media Programme and Artists and Writers Programme) plays a crucial part in informing and influencing the public’s understanding towards the science and operations in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. It’s aim is to support innovative Community Engagement proposals which align to Antarctica New Zealand’s purpose; Inspiring people to connect with Antarctica, through knowledge and collaboration and vision: Valued. Protected. Understood.

This programme encourages media, artists, teachers and writers proposals of the highest quality. The number of opportunities for travel to Antarctica are limited and varies each year with strong competition. AntartcticaNZ are interested in projects\s with new and fresh ideas which aim to capture their target audiences. At the moment they are putting a particular focus on young New Zealanders as a key audience. They look for applicants to demonstrate their outreach ability and we will reward those who can demonstrate a genuine interest in Antarctica and the environment.

See more at: http://antarcticanz.govt.nz/scholarships-fellowships/community-engagement-programme

CONTEXT: A FRESH APPROACH IS

The are plenty of documentaries and educational literature in existence to cater to audiences that are already inclined toward Antarctica and it’s science. And many artists have attempted to describe their own response to the place which appeals to the more artistically motivated members of the public.

Both are very valid activities but if we are to are to engage new audiences and make them aware of the scientific and environmental importance of Antarctica we need take a fresh approach.

Taking a more artistic, and dare I say entertaining, approach to documenting and educating audiences will hopefully engage people that may have  previously been turned off by scientific, conservation or environmental communication presented in more traditional formats. Combining this with digital media allows us to create something innovative and exciting whist maximising the distribution.

My experience with The Pew Charitable Trusts supported Kermadec Exhibition Project has given me fantastic insights and experience in art and science working together. Kermadec also demonstrated the potential that creative projects have to broaden a campaigns reach via multiple touch points in conventional and social media. As acknowledged by The Pew Chartitable Trusts and New Zealand Government, the Kermadec exhibition was a significant contributor to the success in advocacy for the creation of the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.

REACH: MULTIPLE OUTPUTS

I see great potential for a number of outputs e.g. a web-based interactive, photographic exhibition/s, installation interactive, book, talks etc.

One output I am particularly interested in investigating would be a ultra-high definition video kiosk for installation into a museum context. I have worked with Te Papa in delivering a paper on this subject area in the past and they have shown interest in further projects.

Each medium has it’s own merits – the web has wide, free and easily accessible distribution, where other mediums are more focused and directed. The breadth of my skills and experience allows me to be thinking about the strategic relationship in multiple media while working on in one in particular.

All steps of the creative process will be documented through a blog and twitter.

IMPACT: TARGETING NEW AUDIENCES

One of the challenges with environmental and scientific advocacy is reaching new audiences rather than repeatedly “preaching to the converted” as many traditional documentary projects do.

This project is primarily aimed at a younger audience and is deliberately intended to engage people who are not normally interested in science and/or environmental issues.

Many projects talk about broadening awareness which, while important, is not enough if that audience is later expected to support a project.

We need to capture their interest, hearts and minds so they are not only aware but also passionate and educated enough to actively support the protection of Antarctica. This can be tough to do when the place we are talking about is well beyond their day to day lives.

We need to create a wider audience that is informed enough about the key issues to care.