Monsters and Ghosts of the Far North
alternaA (Andra Pop-Jurj and Lena Geerts Danau)
Monsters and Ghosts of the Far North searches for an alternative cartography through which we can rethink relationships across species in the Arctic region, and beyond.
Points of departure for this project are some of the spatial manifestations of the social, economic, and geopolitical conflicts in the Arctic region caused by environmental degradation. The Arctic is a site of intense geopolitical and infrastructural intrigue, with incompatible and interlocking border claims rooted in colonial and cartographic history. The scientific and cartographic artifacts encountered throughout our research have proven to be flat and exclusive in essence, and they often fail to capture the dynamic nature of the Arctic. Through this project, we question the division of our world and the meaning of current rigid borderlines within distorted, often Eurocentric cartographic projections.
The project employs a game engine to inquire into modes of multispecies cohabitation and the negotiation of space following the development of extractive industries in the region. As an interactive multiplayer experience, the embodiment of various non-human characters seeks to challenge our current anthropocentric perception. Wildlife tracking data and environmental projections feed into the design of this digital environment and serve as inter-scalar vehicles and trans-temporal narrative devices that tell the story of global entanglements. Consequently, one can come to feel endangered – an overwhelming feeling that emerges from an immersive narrative, going beyond the agendas of the five Arctic states and their overlapping territorial claims.
Andra Pop-Jurj is an architectural designer and researcher born in Romania. She trained in architecture at the Technical University of Munich and National University of Singapore and holds a MA Architecture from Royal College of Art. Her diverse and multidisciplinary background have stimulated her interest in the expanding definitions of architecture, research-based worldbuilding and speculative design in digital environments. Her MA work explores the spatial manifestation of geopolitical conflicts in the Arctic region caused by environmental degradation. Building upon this, Andra further investigated the tension between extractive economies, wildlife and and permafrost landscapes based on forms of multispecies cohabitation encountered in the natural gas infrastructures of the Yamal peninsula.
Andra has practiced at several architecture studios in Germany, at Sergison Bates architects in London and the Belgian studio Veldhuis architectuur. She is currently a researcher with Forensic Architecture, where she has worked on investigations into border violence between Greece and Turkey, where natural processes have been weponised to assist in human rights violations. Alongside this, her spatial practice is situated at the intersection of arts and science and employs various formats ranging from writing, drawing and mapping to films, game engines and spatial installations.
Andra is currently expanding her research and enquiry into forms of multispecies cohabitation together with Lena Geerts Danau as part of the Driving the Human arts and science collaboration. Their proposal is concerned with environmental science and politics at a geopolitical level and envisions alternative modes of engagement across species. With a focus on digital technologies and environments, they operate across scales and media in our search for alternative modes of representation that can initiate collective action. Aside from exhibitions, publications and lectures, they have been invited to organise workshops into collective cartography at the Nordic House in Reykjavík and APECS, which are playing an instrumental role in their research methodology.
Lena Geerts Danau is an energetic and curious research architect who engages with political, environmental and planetary issues in a focused and skilful way. Her work has been exhibited among others, at Radialsystem (Berlin), De Gistfabriek (Wijnegem), ZKM (Karlsruhe), and Silent Green (Berlin). While she mainly thinks conceptually via research and design, she loves working with her hands.
Originally she comes from Antwerp, where she also completed her bachelor degree in Architecture. During her Masters, she explored the architectural field at the Bergen Arkitektur hogskole (Norway) and finished her degree at the Royal College of Art (London). In her Master thesis, Lena investigated fluid border situations and investigated the potential of digital environments as a new mode of representation. After working experiences in the architectural field at B-architecten and urbanist/researcher at Maat-ontwerpers, she is now working with Tick Tack gallery, as a carpenter for Studio Bonne, and as part of alternaa – a collective established with Andra Pop-Jurj.
Pop-Jurj and Geerts Danau established alternaA, a practice in which they combined their mutual yet complementary interests regarding the spatial manifestation of social, environmental and geopolitical conflicts in the dynamic landscapes of the Arctic region. With a focus on digital technologies and environments, this critical spatial practice with an environmentally constructive agency that operates across scales and media aims to create alternative modes of representation that can initiate action regarding the climate crisis.
3D artist / Game designer
Game programmer / Game designer
Driving the Human team, acatech (Dr. Sandra Fendl, Martina Schraudner), ZKM (Sarah Donderer, Hannah Jung), Bio Design Lab (Julia Ihls), Permafrost Institute (Josefine Lenz, Prof. Dr. Susanne Liebner, Torben Windirsch), Dr. Susanne Kadner, British Antarctic Survey (Dr. Nicholas J. Cox, Ian Rudkin), Nordic House (Arnbjörg María Danielsen, Hrafnhildur Gissurardóttir, Snæfríður Grímsdóttir), AWI (Dr. Volker Rachold), Max Planck Institute (Dr. Hemal Haik), Apecs (Anastasia Deyko, Carina Keskitalo), Agricultural University of Iceland (Dr. Christian Schultze), Fraunhofer IGD (Steffen Knodt), Dr. Heiko Goelzer, Dr. Chris Jones, Xandra van der Eijk, Dr. Vera Meyer, Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir and Mark Wilson, Dr. Dubravka Sekulic, Julian Oliver, Elise Misao Hunchuck, Marco Ferrari, Dr. Marina Otero Verzier, Marc Lee, Sibylle Kurz