W139, Amsterdam, 2010
Once, the Arctic was a big, empty void. Some called it terra incognita, while others maintained there was a magnetic mountain, from which four rivers flowed, filling up the oceans. Many voyages took place, charting the area. The Arctic was embodied and anchored down in stories and books. Now, at the start of the 21st century, this history is being scanned. In libraries across the world books are taken off the shelves and transformed into ones and zeros. However, quite often, in this digitisation process things go wrong: images fade, colours appear, scribbled, marginal notes become part of the original.
The exhibition We are now, officially, lost and the supplementary book Lapon d’une Renne, Voyages into the Arctic Regions address the alterations that occur in the digitisation process. Using some hundred e-books, Stijn Verhoeff sheds new light on the history of the Arctic. It is the outcome of an exploration of the archives of the Internet; it calls into question, in a poetic manner, the digitisation of knowledge. At the same time, the exhibition and the book celebrates the elusive results arising from this process. After all, if we are to believe the Internet, neither history nor the Arctic region itself can be captured in a univocal image.
At the opening of the exhibition the video with live-narration Three times arctic archaeology was performed.
Mattia Bier performing Three times Arctic archaeology at Fabrik am Flutgraben, Berlin.