Philip Clemo and Colin Gray have teamed up to produce a remarkable visual treat titled Iceland from the Air. Part of Philip's ambitious Breath Project, the collection offers a unique aerial perspective on Iceland's diverse landscapes and serves as a visual metaphor for human life.
A World Beyond Perception
When asked about the significance of Iceland's landscapes to his project, Philip mused, "For over thirty years I have been filming the world around me, many times using cutting-edge camera technology to capture environments in ways that are normally well beyond human perception, including through extreme slow-motion and getting in really close."
"Whether it is tracking through mold landscapes on decaying fruit, motion-control moves over the human body, filming from the air, or pushing through debris on the forest floor, I am fascinated by the ambiguity of scale and how very different environments can mimic and mirror each other. The landscapes of Iceland are so diverse and the land is still in the process of forming. There is just so much energy in the ground. I felt that the different terrains we witnessed from the helicopter symbolized very different emotional states for me and could be symbolic of human aging archetypes, such as in Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man"
Unforgettable Moments in the Sky
Colin recalled a particularly memorable moment during the project: "I had taken photos from a helicopter before; then the pilot strapped me in and took the door off. I hung out of the door at a 45-degree angle and took the pics, it was warm and we weren’t far off the ground. I suggested we do the same on this project."
"Jon, our pilot, said, yes that's a great idea. We took off on the first day, boy was it cold high up in the sky. I asked Jon how am I going to take photos. He said: just open the window!"
And did Iceland's unpredictable weather pose challenges? "Generally we had clear sunny weather - the helicopter pilot wouldn’t fly if it was too cloudy," Colin explained, "A couple of days it was 50/50 half cloud half clear, that's when you had to be on your toes as not only was the landscape moving but so was the cloud cover. If you blinked you’d miss a shot."
Describing the Indescribable
Asked to sum up Iceland's beauty in just three words, the duo provided:
Philip: "Mesmeric, brutal, captivating."
Colin: "Spectacular, primeval, transient."
Every flight had its surprises, but were there sights that left an indelible mark?
For Philip, it was "Flying at high speed through a narrow valley literally took my breath away but I guess, amongst many wonderful landscapes, flying over the massive bulk of Vatnajökull, the world’s third largest glacier, really blew my mind."
Colin, on the other hand, found himself entranced by the sun-kissed 'delta' rivers. "It was memorable as we were flying so low, you could almost touch the ground and you felt like your life was flashing before you. "
Through their combined efforts, Philip and Colin have captured the essence of Iceland's landscapes, invoking both awe and introspection in the viewer. Their work stands as a testament to the beauty of nature and the profound ways in which it mirrors the human experience.