Antarctic Research Blog #66 – Victim of the Aurora

Victim of the Aurora

Novel: Thomas Keneally: Victim of the Aurora (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich inc. 1978)

An Antarctic novel by the same guy who wrote the book the Spielberg movie Schindler’s List was based on. It’s a historical story about the fictional Stewart expedition before WWI, a murder mystery on the ice.

The big thing I wasn’t sure I understood was what the book is about. It borrows a lot of details, characters and events from the second and fatal Scott expedition. At first I thought this was just research on the part of the author to make his story more authentic, that the book wasn’t about Scott.

At the end, however, there’s a reference to Stewart dying on his return journey from the pole, which makes the parallels to Scott so explicit that the book has to be about him in some way.

The interesting thing about Victim of the Aurora is that it talks about sex and sexuality, a topic completely missing from all the period accounts of polar travel in the early 20th century. The book’s sense of a historical period is impeccable and the “uncensored” vibe you get is refreshing.

Plastic Cup Documentation

Muovikuppi konsepti

I’ve put up the documentation from my larp the Plastic Cup, played twice earlier this year. You can see the links to the material on the right sidebar. There’s an overview of the game, photos and written material distributed to the players, as well as PDF files both in English and in Finnish containing all the information needed to run your very own game of the Plastic Cup.

I’m editing together a video from the game as well, which I’ll put up later.

Here’s a photo from the game on 3.4.2008, taken by Staffan Jonsson:


I’m a pimp, and pimps don’t commit suicide

That’s a quote from the Richard Kelly (of Donnie Darko fame) movie Southland Tales, which I recently saw. I really loved this movie, and here’s why:

– Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Highlander, Justin Timberlake and the Rock, all in the same movie!

– With all the national security, weird science, military adventurism and porn stars turned reality tv stars it was a beautiful projection of a certain image I have of the U.S. today.

– It makes no sense, but in a just perfect way. You don’t really emphatize with anything, because it makes sense on a deeper level than mere character and plot.

– Gone are the days when the lead is supposed to be a sharp fellow. I don’t know if that was the Rock acting or Kelly directing, but it was great.

Here’s a picture of Justin Timberlake in a surprise musical scene about the soldier’s life in the aftermath of the Iraq war:


Research Blog Antarctica #65 – Battleship Antarctica

Documentary: Morgan Mathews: Battleship Antarctica (U.K. 2007)

A documentary about the Greenpeace ship Esperanza and its crew on a mission to prevent Japanese whalers from doing what they do. It’s an interesting documentary hijacked by the events: the Japanese ship has an explosion onboard, and in the end the Esperanza offers assistance.

I like watching Antarctic documentaries that are about something other than the continent itself. I’ve seen many movies about penguins and icebergs, so this is a nice change.


This morning, I was talking about larp in an academic seminar called Research Methodologies: Embodiment – and the study of cultural and artistic practices, organized at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. The title of my presentation was Embodied Larp – Questions of embodied participation in the games ‘Luminescence’ and ‘the Plastic Cup’.

It’s always fun to talk about roleplaying games to an audience unfamiliar with them, because then you remember why its so cool in the first place. Inside the bubble its easy to lose perspective, but when you have to explain things to people who have never played roleplaying games, you remember how extraordinary it is.

Antarctic Research Blog #64: Scott’s Journals


Non-fiction: Robert Falcon Scott, edited by Max Jones: Journals – Scott’s Last Expedition (Oxford University Press, 2005)

This is one of the first books about Antarctica I got, but I’ve been putting off reading it because its very thick and because I don’t like Scott very much. The central story of his last expedition and death was familiar enough that I didn’t get much out of the diary entries themselves, but the appendices and the list of editorial corrections to the actual diaries were interesting.

Reading the book did make me somewhat more sympathetic towards Scott, because he emerges as a much more human character than either Amundsen or Shackleton. Amundsen is a veritable superhero and Shackelton seems more like a character from a movie, but Scott is just as petty, incompetent and self-deceiving as the rest of us.

Antarctic Research Blog #63: Lucy & Jorge Orta’s Antarctic Expedition


Exhibition: Lucy & Jorge Orta: Antarctica (Hangar Biocca, Milan)

I found an article on this piece from the indispensable art blog make money not art.

Many countries have artist resirencies as part of their Antarctic programs, and some artists even get there on their own. The installations featured in the exhibition in Milan were born of the artists visit to Antarctica, but for me the most impressive thing was the one featured in the photo above, an exhibition erected at Antarctica.

Here’s the concept text from the artists’ website:

From February-March 2007, the artists installed ‘Antarctic Village’ in Antarctica, travelling from Buenos Aires aboard the Hercules KC130 flight on an incredible journey. Taking place during the Austral summer, the ephemeral installation coincided with the last of the scientific expeditions before the winter months, before the ice mass becomes too thick to traverse. Aided by the logistical crew and scientists stationed at the Marambio Antarctic Base situated on the Seymour-Marambio Island, (64°14’S 56°37’W), Jorge Orta scouted the continent by helicopter, searching for different locations for the temporary encampment of their 50 dome-shaped dwellings. Antarctic Village is a symbol of the plight of those struggling to transverse borders and to gain the freedom of movement necessary to escape political and social conflict. Dotted along the ice, the tents formed a settlement reminiscent of the images of refugee camps we see so often reported about on our television screens and newspapers. Physically the installation Antarctic Village is emblematic of Ortas’ body of work, composed of what could be termed modular architecture and reflecting qualities of nomadic shelters and campsites. The dwellings themselves are hand stitched together by a traditional tent maker with sections of flags from countries around the world, along with extensions of clothes and gloves, symbolising the multiplicity and diversity of people. Here the arm of face-less white-collar worker’s shirt hangs, there the sleeve of a children’s sweater. Together the flags and dissected clothes emblazoned with silkscreen motifs referencing the UN Declaration for Human Rights make for a physical embodiment of a ‘Global Village’.