Albedo Prospect is an installation and performance work that explores the polar imaginary using video, sound, and still imagery. Source material for the project was gathered in the Svalbard archipelago in October, 2011, on the sea and in remote locations around the islands. The project is based in part on the 1931 airship flight to the high Arctic from which the writer Arthur Koestler filed press reports. Though his newspaper dispatches from this journey are part of the public record, the radio transmissions have been lost. These broadcasts were noted for their vivid and entrancing accounts of the terrain, in which Koestler found many ways to repeatedly describe the largely invariant scene of ice and snow. While the polar territories are far better understood than they were in Koestler’s time, their qualities of spatial and geographic disorientation remain as essential characteristics even after they have been fully mapped. The piece re-imagines Koestler’s lost reports in both audio and video form, and updates them with a contemporary perspective and an acute awareness of how personal, journalistic, and scientific narratives function to shape our knowledge and readings of polar geographies.
Production of Albedo Prospect is supported by the Arctic Circle residency program, the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the Faculty Development Fund at Brown University.