Unviewable Lands, 2023
by Lea Kannar-Lichtenberger.
Video fly through the sonar mapping area of the journey RV Falkor took in 2021.
With thanks to:
The Schmidt Ocean Institute 'artist at sea' program, Alysha Johnson videographer, and Thomas Speyer composer soundscape.
Runtime: 19 mins
What do we know about our oceans? What can technology tell us? Technology can give us only some answers; it does not give us the nuances of place that we know from the land. This immersive journey into the Unviewable Lands (created with the help of Alysha Johnson and Thomas Speyer) is my journey onboard the Research Vessel Falkor as it mapped the ocean floor. But this is not the whole story; this is only the skin of the land below our oceans. We know so little about these spaces, only what we can decipher from sonar technology. This does not show us what this world is like to inhabit. As we move across this image of the underwater landscape, arbitrarily colour-coded by us, white for near the water surface, 50-300m below sea level, through the rainbow to blue for the deep oceans, 4500m below.
It lulls the viewer into a false idea of place, as it shows us nothing of the marine life living in this world, this technology shows us nothing beyond the earth's skin. As we move further into the journey we cross a hill and into silence, an echo of our idea of the sublime, vast and transportive. This reverie is broken by the reminder that others live here; the whale song acts as a voice a trope for all the oceans creatures that we know nothing about.