By The Association for Horizon Management Dalia Munenzon and Yair Titelboim
The horizon is the purest form of separation between earth and sky – a basic, visually intuitive distinction between what is up and what is down. Historically important for spatial orientation, the horizon represents the maximum range of human vision and communication. Under very unique conditions, when there is a dramatic increase of intense atmospheric sunlight refractions due to cold dense air moving under warmer thermal layers – the full effect the Horizon exposure is exhibited. This condition is almost completely unknown within modern physics. Moreover, it has been suggested by a progressive group of arctic scientists that under certain conditions this particular environment has a positive epiphenomenon influence on humans – effectively enhancing neurocognitive and psychoanalytic capabilities in different individuals.
Conceived by the United Nations Association for Horizon Management (UNAHM) the Arctic Horizon Experience Program (aka Horizon 179) started as an experimental venture to advance both natural and social sciences. Horizon 179 has transformed over time into a global phenomenon, attracting millions of people worldwide to join the journey every year. The program’s current mission is to maintain and explore the unique arctic horizon, encourage new discoveries of polar phenomenon and help create a holistic boundary less horizon experience for travelers across the serene northern Arctic Ocean.
Horizon 179 was originally established by UNAHM after the Second Arctic War, following the peace treaty signed by the nations involved who eventually conformed to the new sustainable reality of political compromise, concluding with the UN declaration of this Arctic Ocean territory as ‘Terra Nallias’ – unclaimed land. In order to create a philosophical and financial system to support UNAHM the Arctic Horizon Experience Program was created, dedicated to the preservation of the Arctic’s natural and geopolitical resources, physically connecting with the ocean on a scale of mile to mile, deconstructing the process of navigation and orientation using only Bellman’s Map and the northern Horizon.
The Horizon 179 Annual Journey is open for all inhabitants of earth that would like to share in the benefits of the Arctic Horizon Experience. As always the pilgrimage will take place during winter season at the Arctic Circle, spanning precisely 179 days of uniquely visible horizon. During this period the ship will be departing for weeklong expeditions, traveling in the undisturbed vast open Arctic sea in search of mystery and contemplation. Captain Polotovski and the ship’s crew will guide the 2,500 yearly privileged passengers in the 2,000 km journey from latitude 70°N to latitude 90°N in order to fully experience the Three Categories of Darkness that oscillate gradually from soft evening light all the way to complete darkness, and back again.
The Horizon society has taken upon itself to construct a special-purpose vessels specifically designed for H179 purposes, sparing no expenses. This vessel was recreated from the remains of an ancient warship that roamed the arctic sea in long past days of war. Painstakingly rebuilt and modified to form a highly customized marine vessel that would perfectly fit the pilgrimage unique specifications, the ship is able to carry up to 200 passengers at a time. This unique vessel has been adjusted with a gridded exoskeleton agglutinated adamantium mesh that was designed to leaves a cleared horizontal aperture from northeast to southwest, allowing no visual interruptions of any kind. This radically transformed warship is equipped with a highly reflective mirroring screens and panels system covering the entire hull of the ship, rendering it transparent, and functionally dissolving into the fluid landscape. The ship also contains a vast database pertaining to different parameters of polar sunsets and horizon information. The ship’s computer is than able to analyze key measurements, which are constantly ascertained by different sensors on board the ship. Access to the ship’s extensive logs is available for passengers during the voyage, along with the complete story of the ship’s detailed construction.
Presiding over the great ship is none other than former Fleet Commander Captain Dimitri Zenith Polotovski, a highly decorated war hero, recipient of the Arctic Medal of Honor for demonstrating multiple acts of valor during the famous battles of the Arctic War. Second in command is lieutenant commander Clementine Gin, a renowned oceanic scientist and explorer and one of the initial team members that founded UNAHM at the end of the previous decade. The team also includes Lt Cmdr Alexander Notz, a former navy officer turned educator, and Dr. William Grant, historian and scientist, specializing in horizon theoretical physics. This highly qualified team will be guiding the ship through the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean for the duration of each pole pilgrimage rotation.
Departing from the town of Vardo, located at the extreme northeastern part of Norway, the ship will set sail northeast entering the first of the three darkness phases, experiencing the brightest of the alternating conditions. The second phase, which lasts about 24 hours, will begin with a visit to the Great Novaya Zemlya Monument and the boundary landmark at the extreme northeast Russian archipelago. The last phase of darkness will begin with the arrival of the ship at Franz Josef Land, a former Russian military territory, comprised of 191 neighboring islands. During this final phase of darkness passengers will experience the full effect of Extremely High Horizon Reflections where the earth’s axis of rotation intersects its surface. Passengers will experience the skyline as it is reflected at a wide angle, which allows the illumination of the sky from an unexpected, counterintuitive direction, turning the horizon in multiple directions. And when the polar night is at its darkest, the true journey begins.
“…The relation between the movement of the vessel and the geographical location of the Pole that determines the singular corresponding horizon, reconstructing a predetermined destination into an immaterial, ephemeral element, one that is constantly changing, contemplating, reflecting upon the freezing water, slipping in and out of multiple horizons…”
Quote by Lieutenant commander Clementine Gin.
Who influences you graphically?
In this particular project the main graphical disciplines set as inspiration are cartography and graphic interpretations of territory. One of the most influential works in the aspect of unfolding the stratified boundless landscape was ‘Taking Measures Across the American Landscape’ by James Corner. Temple Island by Michael Webb had a great impact on the development of the story and images, his reading and expression of movement and vision had a significant impact on the horizon search. Another main graphic precedent is the typewriter plans for ‘No-Stop City’ by Archizoom, rendering an endless fabric of a dotted grid. And finally more examples for inspirational representations of geographic analysis and mapping, which corresponds to this project are the Iceland project by Luis Callejas and the works of Lateral Office.
To what extend do you agree with the phrase the medium is the message?
It is an important question for setting a new imaginary construct. I believe that within the narrative the experience of the pilgrimage is the massage and thus the medium. However the graphic representation without the written text falls short in communicating the geography, physics and experience.
How could a further transformation of the drawings into a book format, reinforce and explore the narrative more?
Reading the story in a book draws the reader into an imaginary world, recreated in his mind by the written descriptions and the bias understanding he has of the world. The images are in part the “official” tour documents described in the story and also the representation of the space and experience. Within a sequence of a book the images give out the minimal amount of information in order to understand the technical background. The linear representation of the characters does not impose the detailed construction of the imaginary, but proposes a frame.
What is your work process?
The main software used was Illustrator. Since the project juxtaposes three information levels each one was developed conceptually in a different manner. The first is the geographic understanding of the Arctic Ocean and its geopolitical boundaries – this was traced on the base of contemporary maps. The second one is the understanding of the Polar Night phenomena, in which the relation between the location of the sun and the horizon has a great affect on the amount of available light. Linear diagrams and simple gradient representations depicted this section. The last level is the narrative and experience made by tracing in illustrator collages made with Photoshop, and linear exports from Rhino.
You draw through lines and hatches, what is the effect and purpose for this? Does it relate back to the idea of the line of the horizon?
Yes, in a way drawing without solids enables a level of transparency and lightness to this new imaginary. The ambition of this project was to construct an environment without territories, boundaries and masking objects. The line is not only the horizon, the visible destination, but also the main cartographic tool separating water from dry land. Therefore in this boundary-less space it is a major component. Even the vessel is structured with a mesh as the only object appearing in the open wasteland.