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Featured Web Media: The Whale Hunt (a Visual Experiment in Storytelling and New Media)

by admin ~ January 1st, 2008

With photographs at least every 5 minutes from 1:20 AM (May 1, 2007) until 12:30 PM (May 07, 2007), media artists Jonathan Harris and collaborator Andrew Moore document traditional Inupiat lifestyles and a subsistence hunt for two bowhead whales at Barrow, Alaska. The Whale Hunt includes a cast, a set of contexts leading from New York City to the Arctic Ocean, a chronograph and other temporal modes for representing time and intensity, and various conceptual themes (such as food, games, kids, paperwork, tools, wildlife, whales and more). Any one of these parameters can be adjusted to assist in navigating the 3,214 large format and digital photos, and creating a stunning visual environment for storytelling and the movement of images across time, space, social contexts, and shared experiences. As described in the project statement:

The photographs are presented in a framework that tells the moment-to-moment story of the whale hunt. The full sequence of images is represented as a medical heartbeat graph along the bottom edge of the screen, its magnitude at each point indicating the photographic frequency (and thus the level of excitement) at that moment in time. A series of filters can be used to restrict this heartbeat timeline, isolating the many sub stories occurring within the larger narrative (the story of blood, the story of the captain, the story of the arctic ocean, etc.). Each viewer will experience the whale hunt narrative differently, and not necessarily in a linear fashion, constructing his or her own understanding of the experience.

Viewing becomes a live event and is presented in a unique style to invite the viewer to participate in the hunt, and share the story of this vital subsistence practice for the Barrow community. The work is a collaboration between New York based media artist and computer programmer Jonathan Harris, Princeton University visiting lecturer, cinematographer, and photographer Andrew Moore, and the people of Barrow, Alaska.

Take your time … life on the ice takes a watchful perseverance and good humor.

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