Sandra Smirle | Kite Mapping in Magdalena Fjord, Svalbard, 79° 34’60”N, 10° 58’0”E

Kite Mapping in Magdalena Fjord, Svalbard, 79° 34’60”N, 10° 58’0”E is a companion video to a multimedia installation, String Theory: Possible Probabilities, 2014. 

The very function of locating something as fragile, elusive and multidimensional as quantum particle is enough to cause its infinite simultaneous possibilities to collapse. Ditto, mapping our planet’s Arctic, a place where documenting the present redefines both past and future. Such is the insufficiency and inherent fallibility of historical surveying in the Arctic, that it amounts to an error in transmission: a narrative of something, or somewhere, that never was. 

During the summer solstice of 2014, Smirle had the opportunity to participate in an artist residency aboard a 120’ tall ship sailing the waters of an Arctic archipelago just 10 degrees from the North Pole. Traveling to such a remote location as Longyearbyen in Svalbard, the site of renowned historical explorations, offered a unique opportunity to work in a stark and seldom-seen landscape. Drawing on research material from her residency. Smirle’s video documentation offers the viewer a unique, panoramic view of a partly real, partly imaginary Arctic land and seascape of converging and diverging images.

Attempting to transmit the Arctic’s untold passage is to communicate second-hand—to measure the ripples rather than the rock, to grasp at probabilities in time, at elements in transferrance between states, from ice to water to vapour.

Sandra Smirle is a multidisciplinary Canadian artist whose work encompasses ideas around surveillance, dataveillance and our ‘viewer society’ —wherein fear for a loss of personal privacy articulates with perceptions of enhanced security. The increasingly public and participatory nature of surveillance in day-to-day contemporary culture is reshaping it, less as technology and more as a way of seeing. From the artist’s perspective, it can render the consumable controllable and the protective empowering.

Often using aerial maps as a starting point, Sandra explores how new technologies impact the way we view our world, and how we in turn are viewed by these mechanisms designed to navigate our movements. Her works suggest a survey of seeing and being seen.

Sandra Smirle’s work has been exhibited nationally and as well as internationally, and is contained in private and corporate collections in Canada, Australia and Europe. It is also featured in The Map as Art: Contemporary Artist Explore Cartography, published by Princeton Architectural Press. She completed her MFA at Concordia University and currently resides in Montréal, Canada.