In the face of geographical isolation from audiences, Northern Sights is a virtual reality (VR) project that uses new technology to broaden the reach of Northern Artists, bringing their work to audiences around the world.
People all around the world are fascinated with the North, but very few of them ever get a chance to visit. Through Northern Sights, a varied selection of works from professional musicians, storytellers, sculptors, painters, and media artists alike are being captured using virtual reality technology, creating immersive environments for audiences, giving them unprecedented realistic experiences of today’s North.
Northern Sights is produced by Western Arctic Moving Pictures (WAMP) with funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, and partnerships with the Initiative for Indigenous Futures, and Telus World of Science Edmonton. The resulting works will be showcased in an exhibition that will tour communities across Canada and the Northwest Territories (NWT), finishing at the Yellowknife International Film Festival in November 2019.
Carmen Braden will perform an original composition on an acoustic piano that has been frozen into lake ice, as well as capturing whispered, spoken, and sung material to accompany the instrumental music. The performance will be recorded both above the ice and below using an underwater microphone which will also capture sounds of the ice cracking. The piano will be partially dug into the ice so the soundboard of the piano directly connects to the ice pan, transferring the sound through the ice into the water below. Braden will transform the piano by freezing water onto the strings, hammers, keys etc. The performance would be partially improvised using extended prepared piano performance techniques and partially pre-composed with core text material. The artist has long desired to bring the mechanics of the piano and the acoustic qualities of ice together to physically interact.
Casey Koyczan will create a sculptural installation on the shore of Marian Lake that will serve as a form of shelter that can be used in the future by locals for hunting, fishing, berry picking, and cookouts. Koyczan will perform his brand of live-looping electro-alternative music within the shelter as his artist persona ‘The Bushman,’ outputting his music to multiple speakers hung from the trees spanning throughout the area. The performance will interact with the surrounding environment to create an experience influenced by the landscape.
In August of 2017, Leela Gilday will travel to Deline, NT, for the annual spiritual gathering. She will bring an upright bass player and a cellist to record a song in celebration of her sacred connection with the Sahtu (Great Bear Lake), and with water everywhere. She will collaborate and perform this song with members of the Deline drummers, some of whom are her extended family. The song will be based on a traditional Dene drum song and feature the faces of Deline elders and youth, as well as the beautiful land and water. Thematically, it will explore the role of generations entrusted with the protection of the water, and safeguarding the water as a trust for seven generations into the future.
Derrald Taylor, Inuit sculpture and visual artist from Tuktoyaktuk, plans to create a representation of one of the North’s most iconic animals, a polar bear, under the Northern lights, on the frozen Arctic Ocean, out of snow. This piece will represent both the eternal permanence of the North, as well as the transience and fragility of our delicate environment. The creation of the sculpture will be filmed in 360, but the natural destruction of the piece will be a view reserved for those in the community.
The borderless Art Movement (BAM) lead by Terry Pamplin combines live painting with musical performances to audiences across the NWT. Never before have they captured this experience in 360 videos with the painters working in a circle around the camera and a full choir in the background providing the music with the painter's work by will be a truly creative experience.
The dissemination of the project will be launched in June 2019 and culminate at the Yellowknife International Film Festival: projecting the 360 videos in a dome where audiences can share collective experiences of the works. In the Spring of 2019 Virtual Reality stations will be set up at public venues across the north. In the summer WAMP will reach outside the NWT, partnering with festivals and Planetariums across Canada and utilizing street teams to engage audiences at media arts festivals and other public events.