Through using VR and AR to trace the boundaries between the past and our present, we began to explore the ways our own narratives are shaped, and changed, by the spaces around us, mapping our real and virtual journey through the digitisation of these spaces.

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Working in collaboration as an artist and poet presented some very interesting dialogues. We were both interested in the ways that Orkney is a landscape of narratives, both natural and human-made, constantly changing, shaped and reshaped by time and nature. Through the archaeology and geology of place, we can piece together stories that show the movement of people throughout millennia. Each ancient site is a portal into another time, another life. We started to explore the idea of how we impact and alter the space around us, not only in the tangible sense, but also in the intangible – the way we leave traces of energy, invisible marks within a landscape, echoes of our existence.

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Expanding this, we looked at how every landscape carries echoes of those who have gone – connecting us with every presence before and after our own footstep. From the mark making of Vikings in the runic graffiti of Maeshowe to the almost invisible undulations of earth that reveal a once vibrant settlement, this notion of echoes and traces became very important to our collaboration. Using VR-AR to map out and draw in these traces allowed us to expand on this concept, and make visible the invisible. This, in turn, lead us to explore through writing the relationship between the mutability of the sea, memory, loss, and the process of grief, looking at the metaphor of the sea, memory and loss.

What was fascinating was how our different approached and art-forms communicated and took us in new directions and depths. Our process was largely independent – both present in the landscape but responding separately. At the end of each day, we would come together to talk about what we had been doing, sharing notes and sketches, and finding correlations and conversations that took us deeper into the narratives. It was really interesting to work this way, because very often, what was discovered through poetry would engage and deepen the understanding of the VR-AR sketches, and vice-versa. What allowed us to do this was having the shared anchor of the quote from Judith Butler, itself a ‘happy accident’ of random discovery when staying at a bothy in Evie.