A shared nostalgia
“One must always maintain one’s connection to the past and yet ceaselessly pull away from it. To remain in touch with the past requires a love of memory. To remain in touch with the past requires a constant imaginative effort.”
― Gaston Bachelard
No Strand is an interdisciplinary collaboration between Boris Kourtoukov and Susanne Fernløf Arntzen. The work is exploring the phenomenon of nostalgia through an immersive, interactive experience presented through virtual reality.
Historically, nostalgia used to be perceived as a clinical illness, with connotations to soldiers longing for their homeland during deployment. Nostalgia was based on belonging to a geographical location. The premise of “feeling at home” being connected to the place one grew up, is still prevalent today. However, as the world is becoming more globalized, humans may have strong connections to a vast list of different places. Nostalgia is recognized as an occurring part of the human experience. We even regard it as a reassurance that we are able to belong to a certain location or time period. Is it possible to transfer one person’s experience of nostalgia to someone else through a digital medium?
The virtual landscape of No Strand is based on a real location that is connected to one of the artists’ family roots in Hvaler, an archipelago in Eastern Norway. It presents an experimental approach to capture a past that belongs to another. The landscape, through world-building, introduces elements that are derived from real events, memories and dreams about the location. While at the same time rendering them to become a more universal representation of nostalgia. While exploring the space, the audience encounters moments that gather around different points of interest. All joined by a subtle path.
Virtual reality provides a means to sink deeper into a digital experience. The immersive qualities of this medium bring a strong foundation for representing the nuances of memories. Realistic imagery, gently distorted as the viewer explores the landscape, creates an ethereal, dreamlike world. The world of No Strand moves, whether the audience is there to see its movements or not. No visitor will see the totality of the experience, and each will come away with their own order of events.