Sideroads in Stereoscope (Animation)
This animated gif is part of an ongoing project that was begun in 2013 and is culminating in a folio of cyanotype prints with letterpress, and a looping animation which can be shown together or separately.
Sideroads in Stereoscope combines imagery of Iceland and Sicily in side-by-side landscapes. This project is connected to the book of poetry “Sideroads” by the late Icelandic poet Jonas Thorbjarnarson and consists of tiny postage-stamp sized cyanotypes of the Icelandic and Sicilian landscape that bear uncanny resemblances to one another. Often shot through the windows of moving cars or while walking in remote locations including lava tubes, basalt caves, and rocky beaches, these quickly framed images are presented side-by side as if they were two views of the same scene from slightly different perspectives, as would be done to create a stereoscope, a photographic effect that fools the eye into superimposing two scenes, resulting in the sensation of seeing an image in 3-D.
Thorbjarnarson’s “Sideroads” is a collection of poetry that I stumbled upon while traveling in Iceland with the itinerant artists’ project Due North in 2013. Reading the book cover-to-cover while sitting on a beach on the northern coast of Iceland on an unusually mild February day, I felt transported as the site took on the appearance of the beach in my family’s hometown in Sicily. This uncanny feeling was amplified by the introduction (“From one place to another”). In May of 2013, I sat on the beach on the northern coast of Sicily that was evoked by that mild February day in Iceland, re-reading Sideroads; July of 2013 I returned to Iceland, and this time flew directly back to the north coast of Sicily, using Sideroads as a journal and filling the margins with my own diary-like entries as I literally bounced from one place to another.
This period of months accompanied by the poems in Thorbjarnarson’s book set off a chain of life-changing events that unfolded like a paper fortune-teller over the next seven years, finally culminating in this looping animation. That summer in Sicily I clumsily translated the English translations of Thorbjarnarson’s poems into Italian with the persistent question in mind: how much do these mediated passages overlap - are they even remotely contiguous? How much is distorted or lost, and how much of the essence is preserved? Much like the two north-facing beaches in the low raking sunlight, the cyanotypes themselves equally distorted and vague, it is perhaps the vague form and silhouette that permits us to suspend our disbelief and be transported from one place to another.
My affinity for Iceland as a landscape that seems a distant cousin of the volcanic Italian terrain is mirrored by Thorbjarnarson’s presumed love of Italy, where he lived for several years until his untimely death just a year before I encountered his work for the first time. Unaware of his death at the time I embarked on this project, I had resolved to seek him out in Italy to make his acquaintance and ask him to consider a collaboration. Thorbjarnarson died while swimming in Lago Segrino, Italy on May 29, 2012.