Posts tagged Iceland


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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In addition to chronicling my recent circumnavigation of the Icelandic landscape via the production of a feature film, we also took plenty of still images – digital and analog. At each stop for camera adjustment, file backup, or leg-stretch, we whipped out our trusty Polaroid OneStep 600 Express instant film camera – because is there really a better format to capture the subtlety of this jaw-droppingly dynamic landscape of geysers, glaciers, and gas stations?

One issue: where to get film? I got puzzled looks from the Walgreens downstairs from the office; apparently sold out. By chance, I overheard a conversation on the Red Line – two patrons talking about a place on the internets called “the Amazon”. I rushed home and fired up my Hayes Smartmodem 300, logged onto CompuServe, and eureka – my dream of shooting Polaroids in Iceland would come true – and at only $2.81 a pop!

Upon our return these archival quality prints were scanned and cleaned up a bit in Photoshop – a painstaking process documented in the accompanying video below.

Once you have absorbed these prints in all their high resolution glory, you will probably feel as if you have also experienced the dreamlike Icelandic landscape itself.


Three of us from AHBE spent time in Iceland this summer engaging with its incredible landscapes. My personal goal for the trip was to capture footage for a feature film, Hringvegur, a Kickstarter-funded time-lapse circumnavigation of the island.

Given the nature of the film, it was essentially edited in-camera. But since returning in mid-August, I have been busy editing an audio collage of wild sounds (ambient landscapes, Icelandic top-40 radio, conversations, etc.) and fine-tuning the visuals. This image correction is done using Adobe After Effects – which is you are not familiar – is basically Photoshop over time. Basically, I am going through two hours of raw 4k footage adjusting the image color, lens compensation, position and rotation. While tedious, it it fun to relive the journey frame by frame.

Enjoy this short video of the editing process – from kilometer 678.7 outside of Breiðdalsvík, to our flat tire around 706.9 – about an hour from Egilsstaðir. I hope have my second feature film completed by the end of 2015.


As President of AHBE Landscape Architects, I am very proud of our AHBE Lab contributors here who have participated in this online project the last several months. Our original purpose was to create a community dialog that reaches locally and globally to individuals and organizations who share our values and commitments to making a better planet. For me this has been a wonderful experience to listen, learn, and share issues that affect and inspire us here at AHBE on a daily basis, both a team and as individuals.

At risk of being too simplistic, non-academic, or opinionated, I want to share as a celebration of our natural world the beautiful landscape of Iceland. I hope you enjoy them. 

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In 2013, I celebrated Landscape Architecture Month by running a Kickstarter campaign to fund my first feature film – From Sea To Shining Sea – a contemporary portrait of the USA experienced via a cross-county time-lapse video and audio collage. By watching the film, one essentially takes the journey itself, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and gains a greater appreciation for the sheer beauty of the American landscape. 

I continue to look for new ways to communicate landscape via video, so I am celebrating World Landscape Architecture Month 2015 with a follow-up Kickstarter project: Hringvigur. This is envisioned as a circumnavigation of Iceland along the country’s Ring Road. If the project is successful, I plan to shoot in August 2015 and complete my second feature film by the end of the year.