Hybrid Artifact #2 (for John Bartram) – with Matthew Hebert

My colleague and co-conspirator Matthew Hebert (San Diego State University) and I have just completed a new work in our series (two makes a series, yes?) of Hybrid Artifacts that marry the ancient craft of whittling with contemporary digital manufacturing technologies. This is the culmination of our project at the Bartram Gardens in Philadelphia which I posted about on my first visit for the project in November 2011. Its been a long term project and we’ve worked with many collaborators along the way – the list of whittlers is at the end of this post. There is a summary of the project on my portfolio page.  I thought a more expanded description might be appreciated here on the blog.

Here’s our statement about the piece – illustrated along the way with process shots!

“John Bartram’s garden and collecting expeditions provided the first systematic exports of the botanical wonders of North America to England and then on to Europe. This happened in the midst of the European Enlightenment and the materials that Bartram supplied helped establish the foundations of the modern scientific fields of taxonomy and plant hybridization. The transport of these specimens in ‘Bartram’s Boxes’ was a technical (and often logistical and political) accomplishment in its own right. The seeds, seedlings and plants that travelled on the long and dangerous voyage across the Atlantic ended their journey in the hands and glasshouses of some of the most advanced plant biologists living at the time. In effect they inspired and provided the substance of a revolution in biological science that is still being played out today. Interestingly enough, this happened through a direct correspondence between two individuals on opposite sides of the ocean. Two men who both displayed extraordinary passion for the North American flora, a certain impatience and frustration with the tyranny of the distance between them, and a long-standing friendship and collegiality, which was never consummated by them meeting face to face. These two men were John Bartram, striving to both farm and explore the newly colonized East coast of America, and Peter Collinson in England, working hard to both enrich his own modest garden and to help distribute Bartram’s Boxes to the leading gardens and research facilities in England and Europe.

The seeds for “Hybrid Artifact#2 (for John Bartram)” originated from Bartram’s garden in Philadelphia. Donald Fortescue milled a freshly fallen Willow Oak tree on site and made 16 green wood ‘Fortescue’s boxes’.

'Milling' willow oak - part 1

‘Milling’ willow oak at the gardens.

'Milling' willow oak - Part 2

‘Milling’ willow oak at Michael Hurwitz’s studio.

Raw (and very wet) lumber

Raw (and very wet) lumber

Box building production line

Box building production line

Fortescue's boxes

Fortescue’s boxes

A group of enthusiastic students from the University of the Arts, the Buck’s County Community College and the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, hand whittled small wooden sculptures from wood from the Gardens and provided a hypothetical text description of the completed pieces. These small sculptures were then individually and carefully packed in the ‘Fortescue’s Boxes’ and shipped across the country to Matthew Hebert waiting with great anticipation in San Diego, California, all the way across the US – 2,700 miles (a tad less than the 3,550 miles covered by Bartram’s Boxes).

Happy whittlers

Happy whittlers

Caterpillar Skate

Caterpillar Skate

Kubrick

Kubrick Shifter

The full collection of Bartram whittles and their 'toe tags'

The full collection of Bartram whittles and their ‘toe tags’

Bon voyage!!

Bon voyage!!

Matthew then opened the boxes (conserving them carefully) and began work on his technical translation of Donald’s specimens. Utilizing an array of reverse engineering (3D scanners) and digital fabrication technologies (CNC machines and 3D Printers), Matthew translated the hand-hewn objects into 3D computer models, manipulated them in software, and then re-created them as physical objects. He created negatives of the whittlings and then remounted these in the original boxes; framed and lit from within like Victorian cameos. The descriptions provided by the whittlers were read by artists in Australia and then linked to their respective cameos.

Printing whittles

Printing whittles

The 16 artifacts are arrayed to reflect notions of hybridization, mutation, and genealogy. The subtle textures created by both the hand of the whittler and the processes of digital fabrication highlight the problematic space of contemporary making. The radical changes in society resulting from the scientific revolution in John Bartram’s time are drawn into parallel with the radical changes in contemporary society arising from digital manufacturing.”

Hybrid Artifact #2, 2013

Hybrid Artifact #2, 2013

Plaque

Plaque

A whittle cameo

A whittle cameo

A whittle cameo lit within

A whittle cameo lit from within

 

Huge thanks to Don Miller Jr. and Michael Hurwitz in Philadelphia, to the intrepid  troop of whittlers from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, the Bucks County Community College, and the Indiana University at Pennsylvania for their enthusiasm and contributions to this project, and to the following whittlers for the use of their work –  Lily Baker, Steve Loar, Don Miller Jr., Donald Blankenship, Robert Haskell, Joshua Skott, Catherine Caulfield, Olivia Mays, Sarah Martin, Kevin Bogan, BA Harrington, Kerin Posobiec, Ryan Berardi, Janice Smith and Colin Pezzano, 

Kioloa – Australia

I’m just getting going on a one month residency at the Australian National University School of Art – my alma mater. As soon as I arrived and settled in, the entire Furniture program loaded up and headed down to the south coast of New South Wales to the ANU’s coastal campus and  field research station at Kioloa. Set in a rich forest of spotted gums and blackbutts and right on the edge of a beautiful string of golden beaches its was a great place to meet the students and check out some of the local woods.

Heading to the beach

Heading to the beach

Students completing local habitat analysis.

Students exploring the local habitat.

Prof. Fortescue's technial demonstration.

Prof. Fortescue’s technical demonstration.

I wasn't the only galah on the beach.

I wasn’t the only galah on the beach.

Off into the forest with a trailer load of testosterone.

Off into the forest with a trailer load of testosterone.

The spotted gum forest is so engaging. There were magpies and rosellas soaring through the trees and yabbering away to each other and a discrete lyrebird working on his repertoire down amongst the tea trees.

The spotted gum forest

The spotted gum forest

Spotted gum bark

Spotted gum bark.

I’m interested in using images of the spotted gum bark for a series of prints while I’m here. The markings are remarkably similar to the artifacts of ‘livetrace’ that I have been exploring recently.

I wonder how they will turn out?

Felling an Acacia to take back to the station for whittling.

Clare Solomon felling a mighty Acacia to take back to the station for whittling.

Night whittling

Night whittling

Whittles in Native cherry, Acacia and Teatree.

Whittles in Native cherry, Acacia and Teatree.

Ian Guthridge took me out to see ‘Old Blotchy’ a huge and ancient spotted gum that has been around since before the whitefella landed on these shores.

Ian Guthridge gives scale to Old Blotchy.

Ian Guthridge gives scale to Old Blotchy.

What a magnficent vegetable!

What a magnficent vegetable!

... with gnarled and wrinkled skin.

… with gnarled and wrinkled skin.

A local enjoying the sunset.

A local enjoying the sunset.

More soon as I get going on some new work here in Canberra.

Baer – the ‘book’ – chapter 1

My final project here has a working title of ‘the book’. It has turned into quite a saga which might be a more apt title considering its Icelandic origin.

Its the Bær version of something I try to do in all of my residencies – put experience in a box. It’s always a challenge to try to distill some aspect of such a rich experience and then put it in a container that in itself speaks of the place in which it was made. My love of making is always played out here especially when I have the chance to work with local materials and processes. At Bær I’ve been limited to a basic set of tools and my own self imposed constraint of using only local materials – which includes rock, herbs, horse hair, fleece, driftwood, plastic and steel flotsam and, of course, sound and imagery. I mentioned that I was inspired by some finds at the National Museum of Iceland. This piece in particular has been playing on my mind and has acted as an inspiration for the piece I am making.

17th Century ivory compass

I’m intrigued by its combination of rudimentary craftsmanship and cutting edge technology. Scrimshandered from ivory and bound with thread or gut, its engravings show a certain opulence and appreciation for decoration, and on top of all that it is quite a sophisticated navigation tool. A piece of equipment which was useful, perhaps even crucial. My fellow resident Mark suggested that the Portuguese sailor who misplaced it is probably still looking for it –  the contemporary equivalent of losing an iPhone.

When I found this nice slab of driftwood, I thought of the ivory compass’ book-like form and decided to enclose my experience inside the slab.

Driftwood slab found on Bæjármöll – the stoney spit stretching out to Þórðarhöfði

Bær’s friendly building contractor deeped the slab on his SCM table saw for me cutting right through the rusty nails – I’m glad it was his saw and not mine!

Then I started to think what would go inside.

Collaging elements – found steel, compass roses, the orbital path of the sun, found plastic, bone, ….?

I wanted to include a sundial and a compass like the original inspiring piece, and a digital element including time lapses and a sound piece incorporating some  of the local soundscape I’ve been catching. I started by making some simple tools to engage with and map the environment.

My simple sundial has really helped me understand the movement of the sun here at high latitude. Augmented by the observable fact that the days have gotten shorter by over an hour during the few weeks I’ve been here. The sun now sets to the left of Þórðarhöfði rather than in the sea to its right (north) – almost 15 degrees further south on the compass dial. Two days ago the almost full moon rose far in the south, barely climbed into the sky and then promptly set slightly west of south  – following the winter path of the sun. I can now tangibly feel my place here on the top of the earth and see the diurnal cycle being played out around me in real time!

Sundial

The second instrument I made I’ve dubbed the Bærnjo – made from driftwood, 80lb fishing line, horseshoe nails, found plastic flotsam and local hardware and tuned to standard G tuning for the 5-string banjo. It can be played by hand but it was designed to be played by the wind like an Aeolian harp.

Bærnjo

“Playing” the Bærnjo

The Bærnjo provided the soundtrack to accompany a 24 hour timelapse that I made on a wet and windy day two weeks ago – 24hrs compressed into about 3 minutes, then looped. The elusiveness of the island of Drangey and the stone outcropping of Kerling as they fade in and out of the video reminds me of their  legendary origin. Kerling was once a troll woman who was taking her cow (Drangey) to market and was surprised by the rising of the sun and so turned to stone. Her troll husband Karl was following up the rear and suffered the same fate but he collapsed into the ocean in 1755.

I plan for this video to be included in the book too as a tiny video and sound component. I’ll go into some more detail about the construction of the book and its other components in a future entry – chapter 2!

Baer – Opið Hús

Tomorrow is my last day here at Baer before Sandra and I take off for a week of traveling around Iceland. Its very sad to be leaving what has come to feel like a second home. Our host Steinunn Jónsdóttir, her husband Finnur and the great team here (Eiðer, Bjarnveig, Sunna, Símon and Símon Jr.) have been so welcoming, accommodating and generous over these last four weeks. All of us feel like part of a large extended family.

Last night we enjoyed a big ‘Open House’ where hundreds of local folk came out to enjoy Baer hospitality and to see what we’ve been up to. Everyone was very interested, engaged, curious and complimentary. I had printed up a selection of the series of images I have been working on and displayed them in the ‘barn’. My studio had many of the images in process, as well as my ‘book’ project in process.

Seeing the images full size for the first time.

The pin-board in my studio

The final knolling of precious finds from the shoreline. And my ‘bærnjo’ to the left.

It was great to see everyone else’s studio. We’ve been aware of what each other has been up to but it was exciting to see how much work everyone had done and to think about the connections and different perspectives we’ve all had.

Tove’s spontaneous watercolor musings

Tove’s 10ft tall fabric, fish leather and pigment collages.

Linda’s 20ft long mutli-media drawing on crumpled printmaking paper

detail

Diana’s intriguing nature table including her paper-wrapped rocks and flayed rock skins.

Rock skin – kozo paper laid over stones when wet and then worked with charcoal, and local natural iron pigments.

I enjoyed the resonance between Diana and Linda’s work and also with the series of rock surface investigations by Mark with his large format view camera.

The one person who’s work I can’t included is Mark. All of his work is on 4×5″ plates and 120 rolls awaiting processing – he’s had two special deliveries of more film from NY in the last two weeks to maintain his habit. I’m really looking forward to seeing the 4×5’s. The best way to get some idea of Mark Hartman’s work is to see some of his snappy images on instagram.

On my next post I’ll go into a bit more detail about my final project – the ‘book’.

Baer – Wayfinding

I love maps. I thought I’d just admit that publicly!

I think Icelanders love of maps too. At least you’d think so from the quality of the atlases and maps I’ve seen here. Maps are a means of not only knowing where you are and of delineating territory, they are a way of finding a place for yourself in the world.

Here is Iceland, a small island in the midst of the North Atlantic surrounded by deep, cold seas.

The view from the ‘edge of space’.

Though the island is relatively small in area and population, in many ways it’s also vast. The the landscape seems huge when you are in it – the horizon is far away, the mountains are ice capped, there are no trees to break up or soften the views. It’s very easy to imagine getting lost in the snow, turned around in the fog, lost in a storm at sea or simply confounded by the sheer scale of space here.

My first inclination on heading somewhere new is to find a topo map of the region. On my first day here, I was delighted to find a huge 3-D topo map as the central display in Reykjavik’s City Hall. The whole island reduced to the size of a small swimming pool.

Oðin’s eye view

Skagafjöður on the giant topo looking from the North. Baer is left of center. The red patch is the nearby town of Hofsós.

On a map it looks like this.

Detailed topo of the ‘hood’ – see Baer above Hofsós

Older maps give another view of the place and another view on ways to view the place!

Ortelius’ map of Islandia from 1590

Love the whales!

Fearsome Creatures!

Frontispiece from another early atlas.

When my residency finishes I’ll be heading off with Sandra to circumnavigate the island. Heading east to the coast and then down around the south where the glaciers spill out into the North Atlantic across giant lava sand flood plains that flow with water and rubble whenever the volcanoes beneath the glaciers vent their larva into the capping ice.

I’ve never seen such a strange topo map! The glaciers flowing between the escarpments, the huge flatlands stretching to the sea with a thousand small streams taking the runoff from the melting glaciers. I can’t wait to see the reality for which the map is a simulacrum.

Skaftafell

Baer – New Work 1

I’ve been absorbing, recording, sketching and thinking and have started several projects which are in various stages of gestation.

The project that has proceeded the furthest and smoothest to date is a series of detail images of the natural and cultural landscape here which I have been working with in Live Trace. I began this way of working at a residency at Anderson Ranch in 2006 and I’ve used it at the Headlands Center for the Arts and at the For-SITE Foundation in the Sierra Nevada. But I’ve had a chance to really explore and exploit the technique at Baer. I have been surprised by the vividness and bright colors of the landscape here – the water, the brightly painted houses, the wildflowers, the sunsets (of course) and even the horses and birds. It’s not a tropical explosion of saturated color but contained flashes of color which appear even brighter against the generally subdued colors of the landscape. Most of the art I’ve seen from Icelandic artists is also subdued in color, so I decided to focus on the intense – almost electric – colors I have been finding.

All of the images I’m selecting have a fractal quality to them. I catch a part of something that extends much further and concentrate on the interesting detail which holds up under changes in scale. I love the way that Live Trace also creates a fractal quality in the final image. From a distance it’s fairly easy to see what the image is, but up close the larger picture dissolves into complex interweaving patterns of disjunct but interconnecting colors. The image dissolves/resolves into a topographic gradient of color, shade and form.

Here’s one image of nets piled up at the harbor-front at Sauðárkrókur, followed by a detail of the image to show approximately what it looks like full size.

Seine

Seine – detail

Here are a few more images from the series.

Rust

Brennisóley

Toredo

Dried fish

detail

By reducing the complex original image into as few as 5 (or as many as 200) single colors the image becomes abstracted. I’m particularly interested in the way the software algorithm ‘makes decisions’ about where one color or shade ends and another begins and then draws a vector line as a best approximation delineating the different color zones. I’ve been reading John Cage as part of my research here as I’m interested in finding ways of relinquishing authorship and decision making in my work. Live Trace provides an arbitrariness and complexity to these images which is largely out of my control and in doing so it reveals another fractal layer in the images from (and my experience of) the landscape.

The final images are will be 24″ square and I’m working towards a series of 26 images in the final selection – one for each day of the residency.

Baer – Crepuscular landscape 3

Obscure calculating calendar in wood.

The world is spinning quickly. The days are getting shorter by 6 minutes every day up here. The night is over 30 minutes longer than when we arrived just a week ago. When we leave at the start ofAugust, the days will be 2 hours shorter than when we arrived a the beginning of the month.

Last night, with our first clear horizon for several days, I noticed for that the sun is setting much further to the west.

I can sense for the first time the planet’s drift towards winter when the sun will rise and set in the south only.

I’m thinking about ways to capture that in some work, but a strategy eludes me at the moment…..

I’m inspired along this path by some rough hewn analogs I saw in the National Museum of Iceland.

16th Century ivory compass and sundial, found at Langadalsstrond. Probably bought there by foreign sailors.

Obscure calculating calendar in wood.

Obscure calculating calendar in wood.

Its hard to beat the original caption.

This mechanism is very inspiring. It’s like a whittled Antikythera. Very cool!

As I’m considering the possibilities, I’ll coninue to savor the changing sunset behind Þórðarhöfðí .

Þórðarhöfðí. Sunset at 11pm!

Baer – Some other interesting artists

Since I’ve been here I’ve been introduced to the works of some interesting Icelandic artists. Many of whom draw on nature as an inspiration – especially water.

I find it both interesting and challenging to find a way to work with found materials and the landscape that isn’t trite, sentimental, or didactic. A way that allows for spontaneity, openness, and multiple interpretation. I sometimes look to other artists to guide me (both by their good and bad examples).

I didn’t know of any Icelandic artists till I arrived here – shame on me. The closest I came was (New York born and raised) Roni Horn who has worked extensively here and is perhaps most famous for her On Place series of monographs begun in Iceland in 1982. Iceland has become her lasting muse. Her Library of Water at Stykkisholmur is definitely on my agenda.

Some of the artists whose work I’ve found engaging or enlightening since coming here have been  (click on their names to go to their websites) –

Ruri  

Her Archive of Endangered Water which is currently installed at the National Gallery of Iceland in Reykjavik was Iceland’s entry to the Venice Biennale in 2003. It’s right up my alley in the way it encourages user interaction and then presents a strong physical experience of the landscape to the viewer, captured through digital means. I wish you had to don gumboots and a rain jacket a la Niagara Falls to enter the space.

Archive of Endangered Water – 2003

Finnbogi Petursson

Another lover of water. Friends in Rekjavik mentioned Finnbogi to me when I told them I was interested in wiring up the landscape and recording its resonances during my residency (more on that later). I like the way he uses electronic means to engage the physical.

Sphere – 2003

Sigtryggur Bjarni Baldvinsson

He has been at Baer and with his great love of streams and the ocean I’m not surprised. He’s the first artist I’ve encountered  who has visually deconstructed water and its movements in a way similar to what I’m doing in my digital prints – but he uses the much more painstaking process of oil painting to achieve his ends. In one catalog of his work the essay refers to his love of fishing and describes the oil paints all lined up as being akin to fishing flies and the act of painting as being a way to catch the river.

Langá River No. 3 – 2008

Ragna Róbertsdóttir

Ragna actually schlepps loads of pumice from the edges of Hekla and other Icelandic volcanoes into the gallery which she then adheres both gesturally and painstakingly directly to the wall or traps within sheets of glass like an ant farm. One installation of black pumice in the huge plate glass window of the Reykjavik Art Museum heated up so much during the day that it smashed the glass window threatening to hail volcanic detritus down on innocent passers by – a man-made eruption. Her work connects to minimalist sculpture but is enlivened and empowered by the raw energy of the materials that she uses.

Lava from Hekla – 2002

Baer – Some first steps to “new” work

It’s always a challenge to start new work in a new place with unfamiliar tools. That’s the joy of a residency, in fact – to be caught off guard and unprepared. To be surprised into new ways of seeing and working. Its also a challenge to find a balance between new ways of working and old. No one wants to be in their studio ferreting away at work that has been in progress back home, but then again no one can start from scratch as if they have no history of seeing and working and making. And who would want to? Our histories are what make us who we are and give us the tools to work fluently – both conceptually and physically.

I’ve bought a limited amount of equipment with me – not that you’d believe it from the weight of my bags. A Nikon D90 (with remote for time lapses and long exposures), my new sound recording gear (Marantz PMD 661 digital recorder, a handful of contact mic’s, Lawrence’s and my hydrophone, and a bayonet mic), my laptop to coordinate all this digital stuff  and my whittling knives and saw as my token woodworking gear. That should be enough?

I started by stomping around the land trying to ‘see’ what it was like. Mark and I dragged back some fishing floats and driftwood on our first midnight hike out to Þórðarhöfðí . Which I knolled on my studio table – just a start to the gathering.

Trolling and knolling

I’ve also been collecting sounds from around Baer – with all my different mic’s. I really enjoy the focus that the mic’s provide. My hearing is not 100%, so the amplification provided by the mic’s and the headphones really help to differentiate the various sounds in the landscape and let me hear sounds that are beyond even the normal human range.

A call on the line?

Fishing for whales?

I’m thinking of using an old shark drying shed close to the water as a sort of musical instrument. It already has some interesting acoustic qualities and I’m pondering how to augment them with fishing line, found objects and handmade resonators to make a more acoustically active zone. The singing of the sharks?

Shark drying shed or resonance chamber?

I need a good hook!

Machine head awaiting strings, found kalimba,….?

Actually it’s just a meat shed, as I found today when I went to do some experiments with fishing line and contact mic’s. There was a nice fresh and dripping sheep carcase hanging up alongside a rather delicious looking slab of fermented greenland shark (hákarl). In Australia they would have been maggoty in minutes – the buzzing of flies would have been an excellent audio element. But here it’s just like being in the cooler.

“The other white meat”

Baer – Good company

I’m sharing my time here with three very different artists and we are enjoying finding resonances and differences in each other’s work and working methods.

We are beginning to talk about collaborations, but are starting carefully with borrowing each others equipment, collecting and sharing materials together, looking at each other’s work in progress and, of course, long conversations.

My colleagues here are –

Mark Hartman a young photographer from New York with a keen and individual eye who shares my love of the crepuscular life. He’s rarely in his studio but out walking the coastline with his large format camera and Hasselblad in tow – his website

Tove Sudt-Hansen from Norway who’s primarily known for her paintings, but also works with drawing, clay and textiles. Like all of us, she can’t be easily pigeonholed and is using her time here to expand her practice. Tove has fallen in love with fish leather and is exploring its potential – her website

and two fellow Californians,

Diana Hobson, originally hailing from the UK but now living in the Santa Cruz mountains. Diana started her art career as a glass artist (a fellow craftsperson!) and has gone on to expand her art practice into photography, drawing, installation, sound, and anything else that serves her conceptual needs – Diana’s Baer blog

Linda Simmel from Sonoma town who works primarily on paper (huge luscious sheets of gampi) painstakingly recreating the flow of water in pencil – her website

There are many examples and traces of previous residents’ works on the land and in the main house. I’m amazed how quickly a shared language of experience and interpretation builds between generations of artist’s who have worked in the same residency. Its as if the culture of art-making itself begins to imprint on the landscape leaving clues as to directions both taken and abandoned.

A large flightless bird or Andy Goldsworthy sneak attack?

Ditto

I’m not sure if other pieces are intentional or accidental?

Intentional?

Some I can definitely identify. Such as this work by the architect and academic John Miller who was one of the first residents here and who connected me to Baer.

John Miller’s meditation on alignments

John’s piece connects two local landmarks. The basalt pile called Kerling south of the island Drangey – which according to folk legend is a troll wife frozen to stone by the rising sun. Her husband Karl was a turned to another pile north of the island but he collapsed in 1755. John saw the now unused, land locked, water tower nearby as the modern replacement fro Karl and set up this observatory so that the new couple could catch sight of each other.

Sight line to Kerling

Looking to the new Karl – he looks a bit like James Bond in this incarnation.

Here’s another architectural-ish intervention that I think was also made by John.

A hide for listening to the canal?

Or perhaps a shelter from the perpetually dive bombing Arctic terns!

Friendly locals, not!

Baer – A crepuscular landscape 2

One thing I’ve been doing so far is making time-lapse videos of the changing landscape and of the sun’s move towards duskdawn. Its the only way I have devised so far to capture the movement and quality of the light. It definitely satisfies the constraint that I placed on myself to ‘be aware of the passage of time’. I didn’t realize when I made that constraint how profoundly imbedded time would be in everything I see and do here.

Speaking of imbedded time, here is the early part of the evening from 9pm to 1pm. Four hours compressed to 20 seconds.

I found that acute angle the sun follows as it slides towards the evening so surprising. Even in the few days we’ve been here the sun is getting lower in the night and staying down for longer. I love the way you can see where the sun is even after it’s gone down from the reflection on the clouds. At the end of this movie the morning was just beginning to lighten towards dawn.

Must be time for bed! Góða nótt!

Baer – A crepuscular landscape 1

As I wander out into the local landscape I’m always excited to feel my senses tuning in to the different (and familiar) smells, sounds, sights and feelings.

I have spent half a century wandering beaches, shorelines and marshlands so in some ways the land at Baer is very familiar and reminds me of many shorelines from my past. But it’s unique and has its own special character – its Genius loci. 

The first thing I noticed was of course the light. I understood in my mind how the sun would move, but it’s not the same as seeing it and feeling it. Seeing how the light changes through the day and the shadows and colors and contrast shift constantly. Feeling that extended twilight. In my experience dusk and dawn are separated in time – opposite moments of the diurnal cycle.

The dusk is warm and glowing and golden, dust filled and tired, tending towards the night, cooling, sleeping.

The dawn is damp and cool and pink and quiet with everything waking up and getting started for the bright day ahead.

Here those two are one, they merge seamlessly into one another with no night in between. It’s as if the summer is the day and the winter is the night and the twilight is  a hint of the season to come imbedded in the season that is here.

Twilight is a derivation from ‘two lights’ and here those lights are the dusk and the dawn.

I have become crepuscular here – a creature of the twilight. The light of the day is so clean and bright and penetrating. The duskydawn is the time when the light is more subtle and indefinable. When the fading sun seems to be of the earth rather than something distant.

Þórðarhöfðí in the predawn/postdusk light

I’m used to the sun moving ACROSS the sky. From east to west. Or as my friend Richard La Trobe Bateman first pointed out to me – from left to right in the northern hemisphere and from right to left in the southern. But here the sun moves AROUND the sky. In the duskydawn it’s due North coming throughout my bedroom windows. Now, in the middle of the day, it’s coming from due South. It moves obliquely at all times, painting different shadows and contrasts on the landscape as it moves.