Mind maps: Norilsk
2022, Multimedia installation
Project was made in the PolArt residency in Norilsk in 2022.
Used media:
Virtual reality, 4-channel sound, LED running line, video projection.
Variable. Minimal: 300х500х300cm
Norilsk is a city situated beyond the Arctic circle on the Taymir peninsula.
People knew about the minerals in the Norilsk area as early as the Bronze Age.
The active industrial development of the region started after geologist and explorer Nikolay Urvantsev carried out further study of the Norilsk region during expeditions in 1919-1926, which confirmed the presence of rich deposits of coal and polymetallic ores in the western spurs of the Putorana Plateau.

Norilsk was founded at the end of the 1920s, but the official date of the city's foundation is traditionally held to be 1935 when the Norillag system of Gulag labour camp was established and prisoners began construction work on the Zavenyagin Norilsk Mining and Metallurgical Plant. Over the next few years, Norilsk grew into a settlement for the Norilsk mining and metallurgical complex.

The discovery in 1966 of the copper-nickel ores was a milestone in the further development of the region. The mining settlement of Talnakh was founded at the same time. A new complex, the Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant, was built 15 km west of Norilsk to process the nickel from the new deposits.
Ecological context is essential to Norilsk.
Norilsk is included in the list of the 10 most polluted places on Earth. The air is polluted by particulates, including radioisotopes strontium-90, and caesium-137; the metals nickel, copper, cobalt, and lead; selenium; and by gases (such as nitrogen and carbon oxides, sulfur dioxide, phenols and hydrogen sulfide). Nickel ore is smelted at the Norilsk nickel company's processing site. This smelting is directly responsible for severe pollution, which generally comes in the form of acid rain and smog. By some estimates, Norilsk's Nickel mines produce 1% of global sulfur dioxide emissions. Not long ago, Norilsk became the epicentre of another environmental disaster involving a diesel spill and the pollution of the Daldykan River, which put the entire Arctic Ocean ecosystem at risk.

During my stay at PolArt-residence, I conducted several reading expeditions on public transport in Norilsk, Dudinka and Talnakh. Their essence consisted of reading the book "Hyperobjects" by philosopher Timothy Morton on bus transportation. To visualize the relationship between text, location, context and thought, I used a special wearable device called Scriber.
Reading expedition itineraries
In his book, Morton argues about the enormity of the global warming phenomenon as the hyperobject and the lack of perception of it from the perspective of an observer within the process. Norilsk is a perfect example of the dark ecology described by Morton, within which humans and non-human agents such as the tundra, the fields, sulphur dioxide, heavy metals, humans and their rubbish (unreasonably expensive to dispose of on the 'mainland') are building their bizarre relationship.

The traces of climate change are reflected faster in Norilsk due to extreme climatic conditions. The old Soviet infrastructure in the far north began to deteriorate on one side, contributing to the aforementioned diesel spill. But it seems that low temperatures became not so low for this region. The first marker is that pigeons that never wintered in Norilsk started to take over the city. And the permafrost turned out to be not so eternal - the pile foundations of high-rise buildings collapse forcing people to resettle or to cool the soil around the houses with refrigeration units, again heating up the atmosphere. Once thawing, permafrost begins releasing methane into the atmosphere, causing global warming to accelerate even more than carbon dioxide.
Morton's optics allows us to realise and highlight the trap that humanity has fallen into.
Whose Cloud is This?
The final form of the total installation is dedicated to finding representation in the poetical forms of the relationship between text, location, context and thought connected with the local context of the Taymir region and Norilsk city in particular.

The final presentation was conducted in the exhibition format. It consists of a virtual reality project, video projection, 4-channel sound and advertising LED string.

Exhibition visitors were met at the entrance with the video essay "Whose Cloud is This?" instead of the curatorial text.
The video's title refers to the painting of the same name made in 1967 by the conceptual artist Vitaly Dyachenko, a Sverdlovsk underground art association Uktuskaya School member.
The video looks at the enormous clouds that formed after the atmospheric sulfur emissions of the copper factory. It raises the point that owning the ability to extract fossil resources implies owning the responsibility for the results of excavating those resources by the corporation operating on the field. Tracking the next sulfur traces on the site allows us to understand how the environment and landscape of the area are shaped, including as a result of anthropogenic influence.

The project's VR part consists of graphics representing my expression of Norilsk.
Rectangular cuboids represent buildings' pile foundations vastly used on site.
The platform under the viewer's position represents the filling of locals of the Taymir peninsula as an island. Even if technically it is still part of Eurasia all the connections between Norilsk and the mainland are maintained by the Arctic ocean or by air.
Whilst particle emitters show the process of sulphur emission in the atmosphere produced by nickel and copper mining plants. The data obtained from the sensors about the position, direction and speed of the pen while drawing lines were used to generate sound and particle emitter direction in virtual reality, which together constitute a subjective metaphorical mind map.

Running LED line reminds of capitalistic aspect of the global warming.