French Sailors

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The memorial wall honors the memory of the French fishermen who lost their lives in the perilous waters of the Icelandic sea. Photo: Jónína Óskarsdóttir

The memorial wall honors the memory of the French fishermen who lost their lives in the perilous waters of the Icelandic sea. Photo: Jónína Óskarsdóttir

The installation shows the names of the French fishermen that died at sea which drift away under the perpetual motion of an abstract body of water.

The names of the fishermen, displayed in golden letters, appear and disappear like memories from a faraway past. Their very essence is at the mercy of the rolling waves.

The names of the fishermen, displayed in golden letters, appear and disappear like memories from a faraway past. Their very essence is at the mercy of the rolling waves.

Árni Páll Jóhannsson designed the exhibition. Photo: Jónína Óskarsdóttir

Árni Páll Jóhannsson designed the exhibition. Photo: Jónína Óskarsdóttir

Gagarin produced two interactive tables presenting the French-Icelandic history. Photo: Jónína Óskarsdóttir

Gagarin produced two interactive tables presenting the French-Icelandic history. Photo: Jónína Óskarsdóttir

The multimedia solution gives the visitors extra insight into the history.

The multimedia solution gives the visitors extra insight into the history.

Photo: Jónína Óskarsdóttir

Photo: Jónína Óskarsdóttir

The project

For more than three hundred years French fishermen sailed to Iceland in search for cod. During this period the french had a significant influence on Icelanders where they introduced new techniques in fishing and built four hospitals in Iceland giving the habitants unprecedented access to health care. It has been estimated that just between the 1825 and the start of the First World War, about four thousands French sailors perished off the coasts of Iceland.

In June 2014 a new exhibition celebrating the French sailors was opened in the “French Hospital“ in Fáskrúðsfjörður. Gagarin produced two interactive tables presenting the French-Icelandic history and a living “memorial“ remembering the sailors who gave their lives in Icelandic waters.

The Memorial Wall
The installation honors the memory of the French fishermen who lost their lives in the perilous waters of the Icelandic sea. It shows the names of the French fishermen that died at sea which drift away under the perpetual motion of an abstract body of water.

The memorial wall is conceptual rather than physical. It manifests itself into a fluid form which is somber, silently infinite and solemn like a gravestone.

The names of the fishermen, displayed in golden letters, appear and disappear like memories from a faraway past. Their very essence is at the mercy of the rolling waves. The element is untamable and absolute, merciless and benevolent at once.

The projection moves at a slow tempo to induce a contemplative stance. A moment of reflection where, at first, the emotional eye is catalyzed by the wave shifting and then progressively redirected to the memorial names, gently drifting in the lower part of the visualization.

The exhibition was produced for Minjasafn Reykjavíkur and the exhibition designer is Árni Páll Jóhannsson.

Our role

  • Concept design
  • Interaction design
  • Construction of prototypes
  • Media design
  • Graphic design
  • Programming
  • Media technology