The Photographers’ Gallery open a new exhibition on 14 September titled,” Meta Incognita: Summer Variations” to be displayed on the The Wall as part of their digital programme. Collected and edited by Pierre Tremblay, Meta Incognita is a time-lapsed video constructed of 535 still images captured by a public weather webcam located in Kimmirut on Baffin Island, Canada. Captured between summer solstice on 21 June and 8 August 2010, the images depict the southern view down the Kimmirut harbour as it is transformed by the light of day and the changes in the weather. The result is a fragmented vision of a landscape in constant motion, raising questions concerning our perception of linear and nonlinear time, surveillance, the photographic archive and the documentary genre.
Meta Incognita: Summer Variations is just one element of Nunavut Lights, an on-going multi-format collaborative project between artists David Bouchard, Bruno Lessard, Pieter Tremblay and audio composer Alex Geddie. The project is based around a database of over 60,000 images, amassed from the same weather webcam in Kimmirut, and is an exploration of the different forms of visualisations of the photographic archive and readings of the database. The film, Meta Incognita, proposes a visual experience of reading only one section of the database comprised of images collected in the specified period of time. The images, each stamped with temperature, date and time data, are sequenced in order and re-imagined using various digital processes which serve to highlight the dramatic effects caused by the flux of light and weather. The viewer is then presented with a new cinematic perspective of the previously still landscape unrestrained by the rigidity of time and space.
The title Meta Incognita is taken from Baffin Island’s previous name given to it by Queen Elizabeth I in 1577, following its discovery by the English explorer Martin Frobisher. Latin for ‘unknown limits’, the title plays on Tremblay’s notions of the role of the webcam in its different forms: a consistent collector of visual data devoid of aesthetic concerns; a government surveillance and monitoring tool which in turn is surveyed and ultimately re-appropriated by the artist; and a bridge to remote places—some unvisited, some previously unknown to the viewer.
Pierre Tremblay said: The webcam in Kimmirut, from its fixed position, gives us a virtual window, a new way of seeing and perceiving the world. By digitally manipulating the landscape and animating it the audience can now see a smooth transition in the movement of the light, clouds, differing reflections in the water, tidal changes and village life. This contemporary way of seeing has engaged our capacities for contemplation, offering myself and the collective opportunities to critically reflect on the nature of digital archiving, temporality, aesthetics, beauty, programming, and visualisation in new media arts. The overall effect of the work is that of a fragmented vision, exposing us for a short time to the undeniable beauty of Nunavut.