The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

March 26, 2017

Arctic Examples

For example - created
and posted yesterday. This is an example of an indexical
process; engravings of icebergs were loaded in Google image and
the screenshot was downloaded. The borders were changed to black
in Photoshop through a fill function; the function was used
repeatedly to erode the edges of the iceberg images, paralleling
the erosion of icebergs in the arctic regions. The resulting
image was tinged blue, a blue-twilight ice related to
nineteenth-century exploration and the twilight existence of
the regions today. Just as the arctic wilderness is being
attacked and transformed, our civil liberties and the security
of immigrants are also under attack, communities of all sorts
feeling the imminence of violation and violence.

For example - the
accompanying video, black-and-white representation of an unknown
and inhospitable region, with what might be auroras and the
results of snowblindness. The arctic is mostly dry with high
winds and blizzard-like conditions; explorers wrote constantly
about disorientation. The video was produced in Second Life,
using the emission-point of particle generation in combination
with the iceberg.png image used as an object texture. The
platform ground had to be eliminated, along with any images of
other familiar objects. This is resonant with my interest in
alien, contrary or untoward landscapes, which are almost
impossible to negotiate - the opposite of gamification, for
example, in which lures, clues, cliffhangers, and narrative come
to mind. The traditional narrative in the arctic proceeds, at
the limit as if it were ab nihilo, its own bootstrapped origin.
And it may go nowhere at all; it may circle around the same camp
until exhaustion sets in; it may disappear into itself. So many
expeditions were documenting their own demise - that delay I
spoke of, the records found perhaps decades later.

I've never been to the arctic; I've traveled a bit north in
Quebec and around Nova Scotia, but these are more or less
temperate in comparison. But Robin Collyer and I planned an
expedition to Lake Hazen, Baffin Island, in the 1970s; we wanted
to be dropped off on the shore, to document, do projects, and so
forth; I was interested in the phenomenology of the region,
which at least then was uninhabited. We found that the cost of
the trip would be around $25,000, and we had nothing like that
amount; I was also at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design at
that point, and my stay was coming to an end. So the project
feel through. We met with a number of people, however, and I
learned a great deal; there was excellent Canadian satellite
imagery of the region. Later, I was on a miserably aborted
hiring in Tasmania, somewhat close to Antarctic, and I started
to make inquiries about traveling there through Australia. I
didn't want to go in the summer, but the winter; I wanted to
comprehend the violence of deep incapacity. Again, there wasn't
time. In the 1990s, I was on Cu-SeeMe a lot, an early video
chat; the most notable experience was contacting researchers in
Antarctica, and that formed a _punctum_ for me, that the net
researched there as well, that one unknown was being quickly
eroded (the structure of mapping and exploration) for another
(the problematic of an increasingly totalized globe (not
planet). (So then recently, I found a cache of books at the
Providence Public Library, almost all first- and second-hand
accounts of Arctic and Antarctic exploration published from
1820-1910, which have been invaluable; I've written about the
far north, for example, in terms of blankspace, and these books
have their maps intact. (The books were free, and that's another
complicated story.) So not only can the formal boundaries of
geographic knowledge be traced through them - but also the
habitus of exploration, so to speak - the erosion of the
symbolic and indexical, the preponderance of the imaginary and
brute force of the ikonic, and so forth.)

All of this has gone into that other text, part theory, part
codework, and into the back-story of the image/film. And then
there are these words:

carved: wind and water carving ice-floe, iceberg, shore;
caved: caving of the iceberg, erosion of the flow;
calved: calving of icebergs, stranding of expeditions;
craved: polar transforming and transformative desires;

- beneath the signs of the poles; within an oddly-ruptured and
perhaps impassable landscape; whiteout without the signs of
poles and landscape; the journal and the book, the apparatus of
signification; the originary silence and inconceivable movement
in the history of writing; and the creation of _these_ images,
_these_ texts, as if there were a contribution to a form of
knowledge among them.

(I've been thinking of manque, and its relation to the arctic,
and to my own failure - to travel to one or another region, to
write or think these regions (or to even write or think the
writing-from-a-distance of these regions), or to write in fact
anything (that will be found, read, published, after a delay),
on a _white sheet_ under erosion, as (my) writing draws to a
close (as my writing is no longer my writing), but this is an
other story, story of an other, with its own immanent
and indwelling poles.)


< perhaps impassible landscape; whiteout without the signs of
> perhaps impassable landscape; whiteout without the signs of
< other story, story of an other, with its own immmenent
> other story, story of an other, with its own immanent

Generated by Mnemosyne 0.12.