‘Descend, bold traveller, into the crater of the jökull of Snæfell, which the shadow of Scartaris touches before the Kalends of July, and you will attain the centre of the earth.’ – Jules Verne: ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’
In Jules Verne’s 1864 classic Journey to the Centre of the Earth professor Otto Lidenbrock and his nephew Axel and guide Hans, led by an ancient runic manuscript of an icelandic saga, descend through the volcanic tube of the Icelandic volcano Snæfellsjökull. Of course they encounter many adventures, including encountering prehistoric animals.
Iceland was first settled around 300 AD. It’s surrounding oceans and remoteness kept it isolated a long time after other more habitable coastal areas had been settled. Visiting Iceland it is striking how primordial it can appear: gushing waterfalls, pumping geysers, erupting volcanoes and vast basalt lava fields. Ironically, though, it is one of the geologically youngest countries; there is no prehistoric age as there are no settlements pre Christ and no existing fossil remains.
This project is also part of the ongoing Peripheral Landscapes project, where I have sought out locations that encapsulate Freud’s concept of the unheimliche: literally the unhomely. Peripheral refers to places outside of the main vision, overlooked because they are not thought interesting or forgotten because they remind us of things best not dwelt upon. These could be described as places where movement stalls and memory collects in a seemingly purposeless way. This is space which entices the imagination to fill it with association. The minor or superficial aspects become prominent: the industry on the outskirts of the city, the desolate strip of road and empty picnic tables, the housing projects bunched up like building blocks on the basalt landscape. There is a strangeness to the peripheral which is perfectly encapsulated by the landscape of Iceland.
These images were taken on a trip to Iceland in 2014. On my trip I saw the infamous Eyjafjallajökull volcano but no dinosaurs!
- Copyright © 2015 Barry Falk