Soul Carrier a digital landscape by Ben Crappsley and Roly Skender

Soul Carrier (still)

In many cultures diving birds are thought to ferry spirits of the dead to the next world, situated underwater rather than in the heavens. Western Australian Noongar Culture considers the Cormorant as the ‘conveyor of souls’. These birds also play a significant role in mythology as symbols of adaptability.

“Evolution has crafted the only creature on Earth that can migrate the length of a continent, dive and hunt deep underwater, perch comfortably on a branch or a wire, walk on land, climb up cliff faces, feed on thousands of different species, and live beside both fresh and salt-water in a vast global range of temperatures and altitudes” - Richard J. King, The Devil’s Cormorant: A Natural History.

Soul Carrier is inspired by artist Ben Crappsley’s discovery of a dead Pied Cormorant at his local beach in the South West of Western Australia. The decaying bird was used as an aerosol paint stencil and photographic source for the final static artwork completed using mixed media techniques (represented on the left side of the screen).

The static, 2-dimensional artwork was then used as source material for reimagining the Pied Cormorant as a 3-dimensional landscape. This process was developed by Roly Skender to extract colour and brightness information which is used as the basis for extruding geometry from the image at various heights. The computationally-intensive method reveals a detailed landscape representing the information contained within Crappsley’s original image from a different perspective (represented on the right side of the screen).

Soul Carrier is a collaboration on themes of life, death and transformation. The animated flight through the digital landscape offers a birds-eye view which alters the paradigm of the original image, transforming our relationship to the original (living) bird through a series of shifting digital frames.