Antarctica: on artistic reverb

In 2001, my master paper for the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam was a bit unconventional in the sense that it was a work of fiction, just like my graduation paper for the Academy for Arts & Design (now AKV St. Joost, Den Bosch). The latter won an award for the best graduation paper of the Academy in 1998, and got printed in an edition of 500 copies.

971220 – 980320, graduation paper, edition of 500, 44 pages, printed single-sided, 19,5 x 19,5 cm. Graphic design by Joebob, 1998

‘Battlestar Antarctica’ is, apart from the introduction, a collection of letters I wrote to art historian Tineke Reijnders. These were written from a fictional parallel universe, in which the Northern hemisphere suffered from a rather abrupt ice-age while Antarctica’s ice-cap magically melted. Note: this was obviously written years before the disaster movie ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ got released.

In this parallel reality I’ve decided to stay in freezing Europe, instead of relocating south to the temperate climate of the Antarctics, as most people did. The letters start out describing my life in an almost deserted, ice and snow covered Holland. In this story, I’ve moved into the abandoned building of the Boymans Van Beuningen museum. There are numerous problems that had to be tackled: heating, food, fuel and looting gangs. After some time the story evolves into some sort of science-fiction crime-detective. This unfortunately doesn’t seem to work out, and the letters start to switch between an analysis of the difficulty of writing the detective-story and the increasingly disrupted plot itself.

Battlestar Antarctica, master paper, edition of 2 x 20 copies, 40 pages with illustrations and insert, A5 horizontal, 2000- 2001

The book I made of this paper had some illustrations in it: some of the first Photoshopped images I ever made. One of them is an insert with a map of Antarctica, without the ice-cap. This was also an edition of 10 larger prints, on high-gloss A4 photo paper.

‘Battlestar Antarctica’ (not a very good title, in hindsight) was also the title and starting point of my graduation project of the Sandberg Institute at Hotel Mariakapel Hoorn. This installation consisted of 9 slide-projections, most of them projected as large as 5 meters high. The slides were a graphic visualisation of the paper, in digital collages. The installation was accompanied by a soundtrack of dripping water and distant airplanes flying over.

The image below is a rather badly composited overview of the space – an old chapel – compiled by scans of photo’s.

Battlestar Antarctica, installation, 9 slides, 9 Kodak projectors, soundtrack, Hotel Mariakapel, 2001

Shortly after this, I was invited to make a site-specific installation during the theatre-festival ‘Boulevard‘ in Den Bosch (NL). Working further on the same theme I actually made a two-fold installation: the prelude in a room on the ground floor of a former office building and a slide installation in the cellar below it. You could only get into the cellar by moving through the first installation first. The slides were transferred from digital collages, based on photos I made during a mid-winter-trip to central Sweden.

Battlestar Antarctica [II], first space, installation, slide-projection, table, chair, green light, maps, edition of master-paper, plastic boxes with miniature pine-trees, 2001
Battlestar Antarctica [II], cellar, installation, 5 slide-projections, soundtrack, 2001

Later that year I used some of the slides for an installation at De Fabriek, Eindhoven.

Battlestar Antarctica [III], installation, 3 slide-projections, 2001

The theme returned in an installation that also addressed my difficulties with me being originally a painter but evolving into another kind of artist. The documentation of this work seems to have been lost, but the work revolved around a tent, made of stretched canvasses finished with a layer of high gloss orange-red paint.

In another rather unbalanced two-fold installation, ‘Kaap>>’, made during a residency in 2002 at De Nederlandsche Cacaofabriek (Helmond, NL) the Antarctics already started to dwindle into the background. Only a large wall print of Cape Horn was a vague reminder. The first part of the installation was a kind of set-up for a scéance. Being from the area of Helmond, I used photos of my ancestors in this assembly, next to a number of objects. The second part was more or less a foreboding of my later work with 3D software, which I started to learn a couple of years later. This part consisted out of four slide projections, one of which was an overflow between 2 Kodak carroussel projectors (2 x 80 slides). The slides were abstract: polygon shapes and lens flares, created in the computer.

Kaap>>, installation. Tables, chairs, lamps, painted polygon on floor, stretched polygon canvasses, rope, tublights, photographs, prints, milk white plexiglass plates, several objects. B/w print of Cape Horn in the background, next to the entrance of the second part of the installation, 2002

Kaap>>, installation. 4 projections, 5 Kodak carroussel projectors, overflow device, 3 slides + 2 x 80 slides, 2002

Antarctica has always been of great interest to me. It’s a continent in hybernation, a (literary) blank canvas for my imagination.


Now back to the present. Antarctica has popped up into my work once more; like in my master paper, it’s an ice-less Antarctica. Since it would take thousands of years, maybe even up to 10.000, for its ice cap to melt completely, it’s safe to assume the work is set into the future, making it a work of science-fiction.

This two-channel video-installation shows a 360º camera pan in a deserted landscape of bare rock with a shade of green, subarctic moss. The higher mountain tops are still covered with some snow; the remnants of the ice cap. In the distance, at see, a large piece of drifting ice shelve is still visible. There’s barely any sign of human interference, apart from a shipwreck at the shore. For the rest only flocks of birds cross the landscape.

Base layers have been rendered. This could take up to over 48 hours for 24 seconds of animation, with two computers calculating. Now the compositing begins:

Virtual camera setup: rotating 360º
Three layers, no background, frame 1

Photoshop composit frame 1