Accepted paper:

Dancing with the Northern lights: capturing the Aurora and sensing the Arctic

Author:

Katrín Anna Lund (University of Iceland)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the steps different participants, science, tour operators and tourists offer to the choreography of the Northern lights and how the dance produced provides a sense for the Arctic in various ways.

Paper long abstract:

In 1897 the astounding nature of the Northern lights inspired a poem written by an Icelandic poet, Einar Benediktsson, in which he describes their movements as mystifying choreography offering the reader to enter into world where enigmatic wonders of nature rule. Interestingly, the legend says that Einar, who also was an entrepreneur, tried to sell them to a foreign business partner. How he was going to contain them as an object of trade is not known but the legend is curious. It reflects how since the 18th Century effort has been to appropriate the Aurora as an object. First when the Aurora became a subject of science aiming to capture reliable answers for their existence, often done by capturing their visual appearances through technologies available, such as drawing and carving, hence the impossibility of bringing them into laboratories. It can thus be claimed that science entered into the Aurora's flickering choreography in order to stabilise it, nevertheless the dance still goes on. Today the choreography continues with new partners when tourism promoters aim to capture visual images of the Aurora in order to entice tourists to visit the Arctic in wintertime which works and tourists do participate in the dance when gazing into the sky at night. This paper explores the steps different participants, science, tour operators and tourists offer to the ongoing choreography and how it provides a sense for the Arctic at diverse levels, global and local, by examining various visual perspectives through which Aurora is captured.

panel P011
Practicing the Arctic: home and heterotopia