In Search of Iceland Spar, 2008

In Search of Iceland Spar, installation view, Bergen Kunsthall
Installation. 181 B/W photographic prints, 13 books.

The installation In Search of Iceland Spar is a photographic archive of the mineral Iceland spar.

The exceptional optical properties of Iceland spar – polarization of light – made this particular type of calcite play an essential role in the development of the natural sciences. Used for experimentation as a key component of various optical instruments, it was sought for by specialists and collectors around the world, particularly in 19th century. Initially, the Helgustadir quarry on Iceland was the sole source of the material, and during the first century of commercial mining the resource at Helgustadir was nearly exhausted.

For In Search of Iceland Spar, I traced and collected images worldwide showing specimens of Iceland Spar as well as instruments with the mineral, with the intention to reassemble the pieces of minerals from the Helgustadir quarry in a photographic form.

The collection process, done by email to collectors, museums, universities and others likely to hold a piece, is documented in full in a set of 13 books that are part of the installation. The images received were re-photographed from the computer screen and printed as B/W fiber prints to the scale of each specimen.

Warm thanks to all contributors.