Hringvegur-screencap

This is Iceland at 768 mph – the speed of sound – a time-lapse circumnavigation via the (Ring Road) that circles the island.

As a landscape architect and experimental filmmaker, I am always looking for new ways to communicate the profession. A few summers ago, I strapped an iPhone to my dashboard and compressed the four-hour drive from Malibu for Las Vegas into a twelve-minute time-lapse video in order to capture the shifting landscape ecologies along the route: the ocean coast, the urban megalopolis, the high desert.

The result – Twelve Minutes To Vegas – surprised me. Not only was the landscape continually shifting and mesmerizing, but I felt drawn in, as if by watching the video I was reliving the drive and I was in the landscape.

I have dubbed this genre of experimental film the land-lapse, a technique using video to immerse the viewer into a landscape to achieve an experiential quality. The use of time-lapse video compresses the journey into both a manageable length and allows the viewer to observe the dynamics of shifting landscapes. Finally an audio collage (wild sound, music, interviews, commentary) is added to provide a layer of cultural landscape interpretation.

Additional land-lapse films I have created include Westbank To Westbank (Baton Rouge to New Orleans) and S,M,L,XLA – a circumnavigation of Los Angeles created for a group installation at the Architecture and Design Museum, Los Angeles.

I culminated this series of films with From Sea To Shining Sea. This is a contemporary portrait of the United States of America experienced via a cross-county land-lapse and audio collage. This incredible landscape diversity – through twenty-two eco-regions from the Atlantic, over the Rockies, and to the Pacific – is united by a common visual element: the Interstate Highway System. By watching the film, one essentially takes the journey itself, and gains a greater appreciation for the sheer beauty of the American landscape.

In my latest film, Hringvegur, my goal was to capture the incredible diversity of the Icelandic landscape.

Iceland – the Nordic island country in the North Atlantic – is one of the most volcanically and geologically active places on Earth. This small European country has been described as if “someone put the American West in a blender: California’s poetic central coast, the Nevada desert’s barren expanses, Alaska’s glaciers and Yellowstone’s geysers”. The 828 mile (1,333 kilometer) long Ring Road (Route 1) that encircles the island and traverses these dynamic landscapes, has been characterized as “the ultimate road trip”.

Starting in Reykjavík, we travelled east across the lava fields along the North Atlantic and views of Vatnajökull glacier to Höfn; then heading north by northwest in a foggy darkness along fjords and blind curves. Twisting over the mountains (where a flat tire did not stop us), we crossed the inland gravel fields of Iceland’s desert interior to Akureyri; then west through alpine mountains, lava fields and fjords along the Norwegian Sea, and then through Hvalfjörður Tunnel back to Reykjavík.

Hringvegur was funded via a Kickstarter campaign during World Landscape Architecture Month 2015, and runs 70 minutes in length. Enjoy this 15 minute highlight reel – 3/14ths of Hringvegur.

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