When I arrived in Iceland I had no expectations, no plans at all. I opened up to everything new.

I lost my orientation in my work. Why did this happen?
I did not have any plan or structure in my projects. I focused on the material and skipped the theoretical research. What do I want to say? How can I be critical?
I have to be aware of my values, views and interests first.

We have been going on a lot of trips to different places outside the capital area of Reykjavik. Going outside is important to get an overview over the left behind, but also to widen your view and experience new things.
I did not have any structure – neither in space nor in time. Structure helps to see the relation between your presence and your intentions in the work.
The structure "1: Research, 2: Process, 3: Translation" came two weeks before the end of the semester. I felt paralyzed realizing I had missed out theoretical research and documentation and contemplation. How can I translate a story that is not written yet? I knew I could not compensate the missing data in two weeks because I am "digesting" slowly. But I started to think about the process of failing.

The projects seem to be failures as I have no material outcome with context. I have no designed result. I have nothing to say. Is this failure? My thoughts are the real outcome of the projects.
Why did I choose the materials?

I chose materials from nature. I was aware of my present location and chose two materials I stumbled upon.

On our first trip outside the capital area - Reykjanes Peninsula - I noticed sheep wool on the ground. I knew wool has a huge importance in Icelandic culture and tradition, visible everywhere in craft.
My first encounter with the algae was at Grindavík - a small fishing town at the southcoast of Iceland. I took a walk along the shore and was mesmerized by the colours, the structure and the feeling of the kelp.
It was also a "new" natural material for me as I am living in southern Germany. The sea and its living beings have always been far away.
Wool found on a walk on Reykjanes.
Algae washed ashore near Grindavík.
How have I processed the material?

I realized that I had very little impact on the material when giving shape to it – designing something out of it.

After I had washed the wool gently with natural olive oil soap, I started needle felting it as a kind of meditation. A monotonous repetetive movement, allowing me to think freely.

It is a process for process sake.

Wool is mainly used for clothing - a protective layer on our body - an extension of our body to save the bodyheat.
After gathering the algae from the shore, I washed the sand away, pressed and dried the leaves and finally engraved a text into it. I exchanged the usual paper with the algae.

The poem is by the Galician poet Elías Portela who lives in Reykjavik and writes about the sea, travelling and driftwood. His method can be compared to the shoreline. Words come to his ears like material wahsed ashore and he combines the drfited words into short poems.
Living in Iceland changed my daily life in a few ways. First time in my life the distance between my home and my working space is too far to walk in the morning so I'm taking the bus to go downtown. I live in the east part of Reykjavik. The distances in Iceland in general are limiting me in movement. Busses don't go as frequently as I had been used to it and also not late in the night. I'm limited and dependend. I could change that by walking my way.

Walking as a method for contemplation. Contemplation is maybe the key to finding orientation in a creative process.

When coming to a new place orientation is an important sense to map your environment.
To escape my limitations (and also civilization) and test my orientation sense, I decided to take two walks – one to the land (east), one to the sea (west). To find my way I did not use any tools like maps or apps, but just my orientation sense and my intuition.
Escaping from the limitation "distance" I noticed new limitations like slippery iced ground, fences, water as a barrier, cars passing my way.
I also realized to get myself lost, which was the aim for the "Walking to the land.", I needed to leave the path. Paths are made by living beings and lead to a certain destination.
Another limitation, especially in the winter of Iceland, is time. I only have a certain time period with daylight.
Then the cold temperature is a limitation as well. I was dependend on protection.

Escaping is not possible – at least not that easily. I always got distracted by cars passing by, airplanes buzzing in the far or humming high voltage wires.
If thoughts, knowledge and mindset are the actual outcomes of my work, what happens to the material I processed? I could throw it away, in the black plastic bag where we collect all our trash including everything but paper, not separating anything.
Why should I throw something I took from nature and had only minimal impact on into a trash bin – in a country that has to ship its trash away to Europe? It is usually comfort.

But I could also return the material to the places where they come from. The wool from the land, the algae from the sea. Both materials will degrade easily and be absorbed by nature fully.

When I arrived at the "destinations" of my two walks, I returned the processed material. Nothing was added – I just changed the current state through giving shape – designing.

It was like a ceremony, giving back what I had taken. Balancing.

Returning to my home is the next step. To make my outcome visible I decided to write out my thoughts. Eversing myself into this space.

I will continue.
The sound of the "new mail"-notification scared me so many times.
I turned it off.

I need space.
Surfaces as tables, floors and walls to make thoughts and material visible and see new connections.
I need a structure/routine.

I want to be independent.
I want to take responsibility.
I want to be aware of my restrictions.
I want to live mindfull.
I want to be happy.

I'm looking for balance.
A balance between consuming information and producing outcome.
I'm in flux, change through motion.
But don't take it too serious.
This website is a tool and a method.
It is an ever-changing manifesto.
It will never be finished.

This summer, before coming to Iceland, I started to think about an own manifesto. It seemed impossible for me to manifest my interests, questions and values.

Also before coming to Iceland I thought about limiting myself to the internet as a medium to explore new possibilities of communication and working and to avoid the problem of taking too much material with me and returning with even more material. I lost track of that idea, but now it seems I followed that idea inuitively.

This is a space, widely accessible.
I use it to put out my thoughts. The web is a non-material as my thoughts are, hardly to manifest.

The journey to Iceland gave shape to myself.
I'm returning with formed knowledge.

Severin Geißler, December 7, 2017