Julius/Koskela

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I am a photographer, videographer and writer passionate about following my curiosity, experiencing the world to its fullest and then using my skills with pen or camera to weave those moments into visual artwork and written stories. My approach is less photojournalistic or documental. I use all the tools at my disposal to convey the emotion and feeling at the time of capture. Just as I use adjectives in my writing I use software, lighting or alternative methods of capture to polish my imagery.

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Images

My pictures can be found in the images section. It is a cross-section of my best work showcasing my style in various settings.

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Stories

In the stories section I will publish some of my written work that may or may not have been published.

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Support

If you enjoy my work I would really appreciate if you shared, tweeted and liked my website. I am also up for hire as a photographer, videographer and/or a writer so don't hesitate to contact me!

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Additionally you can get in touch through social media:

https://www.facebook.com/Julkoske

In the Shadow of the Moai

 

 

Here’s my latest story. It’s about my journey and time on Easter Island, but also about the history and the culture in broader terms. I dig deep into the mystical but also tragic past of the “Rapa Nui” and in the latter chapter I go on to describe the current situation. So if you have been curious about the origins of the mystical Moai or where have these people come from to populate this remote island, please indulge yourself.

 

In The Shadow of the Moai

 

Introduction

 

 

It is a cold winters day in Santiago, the capital of Chile, as I make my way through the jammed traffic to my campus, squinting my eyes as the first rays of sunlight try to penetrate the thick layer of pollution emitted by the morning commuters. I have recently arrived to this far away Latin American country to participate in an exchange program. Excited, and just a little bit terrified, I arrive to my faculty to participate on my first class. As I try to enter I find the classroom door to be locked although the class is supposed to start in just a few minutes. I start to doubt if I have come to the right place after all. I see one other student pacing impatiently, looking as if she is waiting for the same door to open. I approach her asking for help with my, at the time, non-existent Spanish. As I am searching for the right word for some mundane expression, such as “to start” or “when” I start paying attention to her features. She looks different from the other Chileans I have met. Her skin is a little bit darker and I cannot quite decipher her ethnicity based on her features. In hindsight that was not surprising. As we later became good friends, I learned she is from Easter Island a speck of land 3500 kilometres off the Chilean coast in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, politically a part of Chile, but ethnically Polynesian. Little did I know at the time, that from that fumbling exchange of words would start a journey of friendship, an adventure that would take me inside her small but extremely rich culture, and ultimately to this island, a peak of a volcano protruding from the seabed in extreme isolation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

 

For its small size the island is extremely well known. Its isolation makes it a mystical location that for me felt almost like a myth, just a tiny bit more real or tangible than Atlantis or El Dorado. To get a rough idea of the dimensions and distances in question, the island itself is 25 kilometres by 12 kilometres from its widest point and lies 2000 kilometres away from its nearest inhabited neighbour (Pitcairn Islands), making it one of the most isolated inhabited areas in the world.

 

I was ultimately invited to travel to this magical place and even better, to stay with my friend’s family so I would be able to personally experience what it means to be Rapa Nui. Little was I prepared for the experience to come. Swimming in a volcano crater, listening to native music under the stars or trying to politely eat fried fish intestines, all of which reminded me of the spirit of adventure, the notion of scratching deeper than the mere surface and about opening my heart and being sensitive to other people’s culture, way of life and energy. To really feel, if just for a brief moment, a part of something that for me up until that moment, only existed in the tales of explorers of the Pacific such as Jacob Roggeveen or Thomas Cook.

 

 

Idols or Tombstones

 

 

During the flight I examined the immense body of water separating the island from the South American continent. The 5-hour flight represented the final stretch of water that even the ancient Polynesian sailors, for all their seafaring prowess, could never complete, even after slowly migrating from island to island colonizing the whole Polynesian triangle and navigating insurmountable stretches of open sea. Upon arriving to the airport I was greeted by my friend and her two beautiful sisters. I was given a warm hug and a colourful flower necklace as if I had just arrived to Hawaii, and indeed it reminded me of the fact that I was not in South-America anymore. The island’s sub-tropical climate, very different from the dryness of central Chile, hit my sensory nerves immediately. This was a very welcome sensation after spending weeks in nearly 4000 meters in the harsh climate of the Peruvian and Bolivian plateau. After being shown to my host’s home, getting my belly full of freshly caught local fish and my head firmly against a soft pillow, I felt I couldn’t ask for more. My heart was nourished by the sincerity and warmth of my first encounter with the islanders, and my body was tingling of excitement for the experiences to come.

 

Today the island is well known and a major tourist destination, but there was a time when it truly existed in total isolation. The warm welcome I received made me wonder about the year 1722 and the first European to discover the island, Jacob Roggeveen. The Dutch explorer set foot on the island on Easter Sunday, thus naming it Paasch-Eyland or Easter Island. As often is the case, the European name prevailed as the more widely recognized description, but you won’t see this name used very often on the island as the islanders are fiercely proud of their culture and their indigenous name Rapa Nui.

 

Immediately upon arriving on the island I was faced with its most predominant feature, the giant stone statues called moai. These statues have sparkled curiosity in scientists and adventurers alike for centuries. There are 887 statues on the island ranging from a few meters to up to 10 meters tall and weighing at up to 86 tons. The craftsmanship involved in carving, moving and erecting these giant structures is nothing short of astonishing, but less known is the fact that these statues also stand as a symbol of the rise and collapse of the ancient society of Rapa Nui.

 

After settling in it was time to get acquainted with my surroundings. The first trip to be made was to ascend to the Rano Kau- volcano. As a mountain it is not all that impressive at mere 324 meters, but the human eye is fooled by seeing only what is above the surface. The crater, however, is all the more impressive with its perfect round shape and little ponds that had formed on the marshland at the bottom. From this vantage point I could see almost the whole island, its rocky shores and rolling hills encircled by the blue ocean. In all honesty the land was too barren to be considered to be a tropical paradise, but what I was witnessing was only the current state, hiding a history of its own.

 

The most thorough and widely accepted theory to explain its ecological and sociological destruction is the book “Collapse” by Jared Diamond. His research has concluded that the island used to be a very different place before the estimated time of human arrival at around 700-1100 AD, and long into its initial settlement. However according to scientists, the island used to be a lush sub-tropical paradise containing various types of trees and plants since extinct. It was also one of the biggest nesting areas for a plethora of seabirds, but the populations have since declined greatly or disappeared completely. In the heart of this destruction and decline lies the moai and a peculiar story of a miniature society, with little to no contact with the outside world, slowly self-destructing due to over-population and the ensuing competition and warfare.

 

How the moai were constructed and even more so how they were dragged to their “ahu’s” (sacred platforms on which the moai stand) has puzzled researchers for centuries. Theories range from peculiar to extra-terrestrial, but the prevalent theory is also closely linked to the eco-social decline of the island. Scientists have experimented with moving and lifting the moai and concluded that in a society the size of Rapa Nui it h­­­­as been a tremendous effort increasing food consumption for an approximated 25% and requiring major over-exploitation of resources.

 

Moving the moai required ropes made out of tree-fibre and logs on which the moai were pulled. The construction and moving of the moai together with other forms of wood consumption such as canoes and firewood resulted in the complete deforestation of the whole island. Deforestation acted as a cataclysm for soil erosion resulting in fewer crops. The lack of seaworthy vessels that the trees were used for made fishing less efficient, which in turn accelerated the exploitation of the limited landmass at their disposal. At one point the traditional social structure with its priests, chiefs and Gods got overthrown by a military regime. Old traditions were banned and a new culture and order established on its ruins. The Rapa Nui-society kept declining at an accelerating pace, all the while the clans were still competing about whom would carve the biggest moai and expending their scarce resources in showing power and status rather than repairing the fragile ecosystem they had destroyed. Famine led to widespread cannibalism and finally the construction of the moai ceased, the last ones remaining the biggest ever built. When the resources became so depleted that the construction of the moai became impossible the warring clans and disputing families turned to toppling each other’s statues instead. The whole cycle of self-destruction in this micro-society bears haunting resemblance to the modern era and to a development happening on a far greater scale, thus it has been the focus of and example for many scientists when it comes to understanding the fall of societies and the reasons behind the extinction of entire races.

 

When the Europeans finally arrived on the island the population had declined from a peak of an estimated 15-30 000 to a mere 3000 as calculated by Roggeveen. Although many would argue that it was the Europeans who brought the destruction to the island, the latest evidence suggests that they only brought the final blow, finishing a development that had started way before. It is not to say that the colonists and slavers are somehow exempt of responsibility, on the contrary. It was several decades after Roggeveen’s initial contact with Rapa Nui, when the colonists and missionaries arrived. Slavery and diseases laid waste on the population and the fragile oral culture was destroyed by the foreign influence and internal disputes. By the late 19th century only 111 Rapa Nui were still living on the island, a peril that fortunately marked the turning point and start of a slow recovery. However by then most of the orally passed culture and history had been irrevocably lost.

 

As I sat with my friends in front of the 15 moai at Ahu Tongariki watching the first rays of sun slowly emerge from pacific, I could not help but to think what these huge stone monoliths represented. Were they the proud idols of a lost culture? Or tombstones representing the ever-present lust for power and status we humans so often fall victim to? The stark contrast between the tragic tale of Rapa Nui and the proud and lively culture I was witnessing required me to look away from the pages of history and snap myself into the present. As a visitor, was I experiencing a façade made for the entertainment of the adventurous tourist? Or could I actually be witnessing a re-birth of a culture that, for so long, had been dangling on the verge of extinction?

 

 

Resurrection

 

 

One night as I had just fallen asleep I heard a knock on my door. It was my host mother who urged me to put on my clothes, take my swimming pants and towel and hop into the car. As I came out I saw the whole family packing the pick-up with picnic baskets and blankets. I was ushered into the car, and as I was admiring the starry sky from the side-window I was given an explanation for this ad hoc excursion. The mother explained that during dinner she had sensed a bad energy on the table. A member of the family was going through a rough patch and the energy inside the house had gotten stale, thus she took initiative and organized a surprise swim trip on the beach to clean our spirit. I was stunned by the beauty of the whole situation. The psychological sensitivity of hers was astounding. I witnessed how she was inducing us with the spontaneous kind of love that takes the mind off of the mundane worries of everyday life. I saw that she was not only taking care of her family, but the spirit that is family.

 

I felt that through these people I was starting to grow a new kind of sensitivity myself. In my own society we tend to shun words such as energy or spirit and substitute them with words like psyche or mental capability. We take a more clinical approach, distancing ourselves from these concepts and relying on professional aid and therapy for our consolidation. I feel we are increasingly afraid to resolve issues and emotions inside our inner circle. Sometimes all it takes, however, is a swim under the stars. That night I think all of us slept like babies, revitalized by the energy and strong spirit of the family and the childlike joy of running into the gentle waves under the starry sky.

 

The life on the island was centred in the small town of Hanga Roa with all the services. In front of the town was the most popular surfing spot full of people of all ages enjoying the waves. All in all the life on the island had a certain repose to it, the absence of people sweating in their suits hurrying from one skyscraper to the other. It is a feeling you can easily get caught up in and sooner than later I found myself amidst the waves being shovelled towards the shore in a white foamy fray unsuccessfully trying to get up on my surfboard. I was not discouraged though and after getting a hang of the surfing I decided to try something even more foreign to me. I am most certainly a city-dweller, but nevertheless despite my lack of knowledge with domestic animals, horseback seemed an apt way discover all the hidden nooks and crannies of Rapa Nui. We explored caves, crater lakes, hidden petroglyphs and enjoyed a picnic well away from the more touristic sights. The islands compact size has its advantages making it easy to explore on foot, bike or horseback as long as you respect the properties and stay well within the limits since the locals are rightfully worried about trampling and littering. It is better to be informed and if in doubt the local agencies and service providers will instruct you of any restrictions.

 

As I gained a deeper insight into the more recent history of Rapa Nui I understood that I was witnessing a cultural resurrection. One key concept of the Rapa Nui tradition is called Mana, a spiritual energy flowing in the people and in the land through the ancestors buried in it. The islanders seemed very attuned to this concept and its importance to them was apparent. After the main artery of Mana on the island had been almost entirely cut by social decline and foreign influence, the population that had survived were hard at work at restoring that energy. It was not only a spiritual restoration, but a very concrete and tangible one. The ahu platforms were restored and the toppled moai rose once again, not only to impress tourists, but to honour the ancestors and to celebrate the culture. Many young Rapa Nui I met told me how important the moai and ahu’s were for them and how the sacred sites needed to be respected. This whole concern was new. The ban to walk on the ahu’s or touch the moai was less than two decades old. I felt however that it represented a turning point, before which the people were merely getting by, only recently released from a physical and spiritual slavery. The newer generations had regained the energy, the mana, to start restoring and preserving their precious, but fragile culture.

 

My friend who brought me to the island and in contact with her culture, was part of this restoration. She runs a unique project that takes the traditional tales found on the island and transcribes them into screenplays. Then the stories are filmed on the island and acted by the islanders, thus protecting and preserving the oral culture of Rapa Nui in an audio-visual format. This and many more archaeological, anthropological and artistic projects have raised awareness of the place and have ultimately turned it into a UNESCO world heritage site. However it is not to say that the work is in any way finished. The island is so tiny, so fragile, that it could easily be destroyed by the combination of insensitive tourism and over-population. Although land acquisition has been restricted only to the natives and many sites protected from trampling and deterioration, we cannot be lulled into the misconception that the balance can be maintained without constant work and attention, in an eco-system of this scale.

 

As with any project involving the varying interests of indigenous cultures and the mainstream population, the situation on Easter Island has not been without its problems. A treaty between the island and the government of Chile was signed in 1888 and in recent times it has come under a lot of dispute. Many Rapa Nui feel that Chile is neglecting their rights and trying to assimilate their culture into the mainstream Chilean society. In an article in the Time magazine, the high commissioner of the Rapa Nui parliament’s division on human rights Erity Teave says; “Even though Chile is trying to assimilate us, I don’t feel Chilean, nobody can force me to stop being who I am”, echoing a sentiment shared by many, but not all. At the heart of the problem lies the islands total dependency on Chile. Due to its size Easter Island is unable to support much, if any, industry making the islanders completely dependent on resources shipped from the continent. Although some factions vow for independence or being part of Polynesia rather than Chile, whom with they share more cultural resemblance, it seems a distant and somewhat unrealistic prospect.

 

After weeks of surfing, horseback riding, scuba diving and just relaxing on the beach came the time for goodbyes. As I was leaving just before the academic semester started in mainland Chile, it was not only me who bid farewell, but a big portion of the islands youth, including the two older daughters in my family. The single hardest part of travelling is the moment you stand on a bus-terminal, a railway station, a harbour or an airport, surrounded by people you connected with, learned from and opened your heart to. The moment of farewells never gets easier. Fighting back tears I hopped on the plane, all the while thinking about what I thought was the most important lesson I had learned on the island; sometimes all it takes is a simple swim under the stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Saladino

 

This next set of pictures comes from Tierra del Fuego and our encounter with the hermit Saladino. This meeting was a true surprise and a privilege to us. We were walking 15 kilometers from the nearest gravel road when all of the sudden this person appeared from the woods riding his old white horse. The whole story will be published later so I will not write it here. I will however describe each picture in the captions so it might be worth it to read those.

 

 

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Stranded – A Portrait of a Shipwreck

The first set of photos I publish from our trip to the end of the world. This was a shipwreck on the coast of the Magellan strait, abandoned in 1932. The ship named Amadeo was constructed in London 1869 and brought to the other side of the world when the pioneers were developing the still fledgling industry of the Punta Arenas (biggest Chilean city in the southern Patagonia) region.

 

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A Video From the Driest Desert on Earth – Atacama

Sharing more video- work by me and Joonas Virtanen. This video was shot in the Atacama desert and was featured in a major publication here in Chile called Thisischile.cl of which we were very happy about. I like Joonas’s idea of a “travelogue” styled short clips in a music video style. I think that today’s average internet user is like someone constantly coked up with the attention span of a 2- year old, which means that anything that lasts longer then 5 minutes will be a tough sell. Instead of complaining about the collective behavior of the internet generation, a good artist adapts. He finds a new way of telling his stories and here Joonas has come up with a very clever style of a series of few minutes long videoclips. I think the length and format of the video we make today for the internet is a very interesting topic and something I think about a lot when I plan my future projects.

 

If anyone has questions about how it was made or how a specific shot was made we would be happy to answer!

 

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A Music Video Project with Joonas Virtanen

I wanna share a music video project by a very talented friend of mine named Joonas Virtanen! This video was made for a South Carolina based band named Latenights and I assisted Joonas with the shooting and appear on the video as well. Needless to say it was an awesome project and I’m very happy about how it all came out. Joonas has a knack for music montage and I also enjoy the way he handled the color correction to achieve the kind of smooth and dreamy tone to the video.

The video was shot in 2 days and the plan was basically to go to Cerro San Cristobal (a big hill in the center of Santiago) have a few beers and come down the hill with longboards whilst shooting some shots for the video. We had the privilege to get to know Keaten North who is a member of the band and was doing a half a year exchange with us here in Santiago so through him we got to make this video for them . They have a laid back indie sound and I hope to hear more of them in the future!

 

Hope you enjoy!

 

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Rainy Night: A Try at Moody Street Photography

 

It doesn’t rain that much here in Santiago so when the sun went down and I was walking the streets I got an inspiration to take out my camera and try my hand at some street photography. My goal was to take those moody rainy shots and create a gloomy atmosphere in the images. Without further ado here are the pictures.

 

 

 

 

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The Quest for the Crazy Herb – Another Weekend of Trekking.

Here comes the due account of my second trek with the Trekking.cl hiking group. As I explained earlier it’s a community of avid hikers and nature- lovers who are willing to take on anyone who shares their passion for the outdoors. After the first hike I was already waiting impatiently for next weekend and the journey to the valley of “Yerba Loca” or “Crazy Herb” as the direct translation would be. Obviously I was quite curious about the name, although I strongly disapprove of any psychosomatics of course. Unfortunately no one knew about the history of the name and we were unable to find any plants that to our knowledge could make you “crazy” and if we did we wouldn’t share it here because spreading that kind of information on a public forum would be highly irresponsible. However since we knew that the youth in Santiago isn’t very big on sports and more about smoking pot and chilling out we did come up with a devious strategy the government could abuse to provoke appreciation for mountaineering amongst the lazy MacDonald’s generation. The way up to the end of the valley was about 20km long and included 2km of ascent. If you planted a few pristine samples of Cannabis sativa up there in the final pass before the glacier I am pretty sure the lazy young hipsters would become a generation of enthusiastic mountaineers, granted they could actually make their way back down after enjoying the fruits of their hardship.

 

After last weekends successful ascend to the hills surrounding Santiago I was feeling good about taking on Yerba Loca. Starting our journey the weather was glorious and everyone seemed pumped up about reaching the glacier “La Paloma” of which we could see a part of in the distance. We started to make our way up the valley and although it wasn’t as steep to start with as last week the way was longer. During the first day we advanced quite slowly pausing every now and then to take in the views. In the end a hike like this, at least for me, isn’t about “performing” but rather “enjoying the ride”. As the sun started setting we decided to make camp after about 13km of walking.

 

As the night fell upon us people started cooking a little barbecue of whatever meat and sausages everyone happened to bring about. The escudo and pisco bottles started coming out of the backpacks and there was a general feeling of sharing and taking in the experience together. I must admit though that I was quite ready to crawl into my sleeping bag once I had my belly full and didn’t partake in the heavier drinking, a decision I didn’t have to regret the next morning when the alarm went off at 5:30 and the last part of ascent started.

 

The whole way the landscape had been slowly changing from a lush forest valley into a barren waste, coloured by the shades of cyan and rust from the iron and copper rich ore of the mountains. In a way it felt like a journey through time, a passage from a vibrant living landscape to a realm of dead stone devoid of sentiments for the mortal world below. This experience strongly reflected how I felt in the Atacama desert a few months back and it’s the kind of feeling that reminds me why I live 14 000 kilometres away from home and away from all things familiar.

 

I had had a little accident with my food last night, meaning I didn’t have any supplies for the second day. Arnold, one of my trekking companions, kindly let me dig into his remaining cookies, but nonetheless when we reached the highest point of our journey I started feeling my stomach grumble and I wasn’t the only one. When there’s no food the second best thing is to daydream about it so with my mates Mike and Steve we drew strength from the idea that once we reach Santiago after all this we’re going to hit an awesome hamburger joint and fill ourselves up with a huge and extremely unhealthy dinner. This idea really whipped more speed into us and it felt that after no time we reached the base of the National Park. Just before the base we were treated with a show of soaring condors and hunting Chilean eagles and afterwards I became curious about the condor, one of the biggest birds on the planet, with a wingspan of up to 3,2 meters. What stroke me as even more interesting though was the fact that it’s one of the oldest living birds on the planet with specimens living over 70 years in captivity and scientist speculating that it could theoretically reach 100 years, pretty similar to the lifespan of a human.

 

So after 40km of walking and 2km of ascent and descent we were finally in a car on our way to Santiago. All of us were hungry like stray dogs and our mouths were salivating over the prospect of some real Yankee style hamburgers and cold beers. When we got to the hamburger joint and took the first sip of a cold lager even the girlfriend of Mike, who came by to say hello, understood that this was not a time of conversation, but of quiet devotion for the miracle of tasty saturated fats refuelling our spirits and our souls.

 

Scooping up the last French fries I already had my mind firmly on the next adventure. My dream of Patagonia and reaching the “end of the world” is drawing closer and I feel physically and mentally perfect for facing whatever awaits me there. Photographically I’m not 100% satisfied with what I came back with from this particular trek, but that is partly due to the fact that hiking in a group you are somewhat depending on the patience of the others as well. When it comes to shooting amidst a heavy hike like this, many times it’s for the photographer to go just a little bit further. When everyone else put their bags down and took a sip of water I was looking for a vantage point, a composition. When the others woke up at 6am I had my alarm set for 5:30 to be able to take a few long exposures before we took off. It’s all good and well on a 2- day hike, but we’ll see how it feels like on the 5th or the 6th day of a gruelling adventure in Antarctic conditions. I promise I will try though!

 

Meanwhile everyone here’s the link for www.trekking.cl again, if you are situated here in Santiago you owe yourself to check it out. My friends in Finland could start thinking if this kind of thing would be possible there as well. Especially Rovaniemi is situated perfectly considering outdoors activities!

 

 

 

 

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Trekking in Santiago

 

In the start of next year I will be travelling for almost 2,5 months and my travels start with an epic adventure to Patagonia, which hopefully includes a lot of trekking and outdoors activities. With this in mind I thought it was time to do a little fitness check and see how badly all the beer and completos (chilean hot dog)  had ruined my body during my 4 months here in Santiago. I live in the city centre and I have to say it does not invite you to do sports. The air is bad and I don’t have any beautiful parks or anything nearby to go jogging, and all excuses aside, I am lazy so last weekend I decided to join Trekking.cl, a group of avid hikers who invite all and everyone to join their hikes for free, and to see how I can survive the ascent to the foothills near Santiago. In the end I am very happy that nobody told me beforehand that we are going to ascend well over 1000 meters in less than 5 hours, most of it in the dark.

 

The Trekking.cl initiative is truly great. It is just a bunch of guys who want to share their experience of the routes and places and the treks happen every weekend. Whoever can join, just bring your own equipment, food and most importantly sufficient water. The group was extremely friendly and when we finally reached our destination at the top we made a small campfire, did a little barbecue and even shared horror stories. Some people may have even had a little pisco or escudo (local beer), which tasted great after the days work. We spent the night up there in tents and came down the next morning. The idea of hiking late in the night and early in the morning was because of the pressing heat in Santiago at this time a year. For someone used to a much colder climate it would have been extremely painful for me to hike up there in the middle of the day.

 

I will keep this post short and let you enjoy the pictures I took, but needless to say it was a great way to pass the weekend instead of going to a bar and having a hangover on Sunday. I felt very good when finally back in Santiago and am not too worried about my fitness anymore for Patagonia. I felt that I was in a good shape and going up I tried to keep a good pace to sweat all the lazy Santiago days out of my body and actually made it first on top. I will be participating on the trek next weekend as well so more of this to come!

Here is a link to their website with info on the upcoming hikes.

http://www.trekking.cl/

 

 

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Uho te Uka – a Film From Rapa Nui.

 

Disclaimer: All the pictures from the island and of the movie production are the intellectual property of Waitiare Icka and I am showing them as a part of my blog under her consent.

 

Today was a special day for my good friend Waitiare, who had her film Uho te Uka premiered at our campus. This was an extremely interesting project for many reasons the biggest, for a foreigner like me, being of course the fact that it was done in Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and that it was done by the islanders themselves. Waitiare herself is a filmmaker from the island studying here in Santiago in my university and we have become friends for having mutual courses. I have obviously been enchanted by the fact that I can study with someone from a place that for me has seemed almost unreal, a place of myth and legend and I guess although most people know Easter Island, few people know much more about it than the Moai statues that resemble a certain ex-prime minister of Finland.

Obviously the films only merit wasn’t the fact that it was shot in an exotic location by exotic people (by our standards), but it was actually a very entertaining 50 minutes with a lot of nice camerawork, beautiful scenery and authentic Rapa Nui atmosphere. Well what do I know about authentic Rapa Nui atmosphere, but if it wasn’t I was certainly fooled. The story was simple, as these orally passed legends usually tend to be, but the story had the warm feeling of having been passed on for generations in the smoky scent of a cosy campfire. I could imagine the village elder or some sort telling this tale to the younglings for entertainment, but also for the underlying wisdom of life it contained. It makes me think about my own culture and our legends, which have been preserved mostly in writing, since Lönnroth and how she is actually doing the same as our own national scholar did in the 19th century going around the countryside collecting the myths that would later become the Finnish national epic Kalevala. Worth mentioning about the movie as well is the beauty of the actors, not the least the protagonist whom with her womanly curves seduces even a turtle from the sea, definitely a treat for any mans eyes.

I am writing this now for two reasons. First of all because it was her premiere night and I want to congratulate her tremendous effort for making her first long (51min) movie and secondly to speak about her upcoming project in which I have been fortunate enough to be slightly involved in. These movies are not just whatever tales shot in an exotic location, but they are actually the oral heritage of the indigenous islanders that she wants to preserve in an audio-visual format. The modern culture reaches its tentacles even to the most remote places on earth and Rapa Nui today is a totally modernized community. As we all know, when old traditions are replaced by cable TV and Internet there is always the possibility they will slowly fade into oblivion. She has realized this danger and with a group of young islanders has started this project to write the myths and legends of the island into screenplays and shoot them, which I think is needless to say a noble and worthy cause. The oral unwritten tradition I think is the most fragile one on the face of the globalized culture of the modern era.

Lastly I want to write a little bit about her upcoming project. The preservation project was never meant to be only one movie, one legend, but a series of videos that would eventually become an audio-visual library to the culture of Rapa Nui. As I am speaking it is the 30th of October and the plan is to shoot a new short film in February 2013. It will be a similar project and I have been told it will have ghosts, so stay tuned. My contribution so far has been to introduce Waitiare to Kickstarter, an online funding platform for creative projects that in my opinion could serve to fund, at least partly, her upcoming production. Shooting a movie is not cheap and many would be surprised of all the costs involved even in the smallest of projects and this is not the smallest of projects by any measurement. In this kind of situation more money basically equals more quality in the technical aspects of the movie, because it allows for more sophisticated equipment, better props and a longer shooting time. I will obviously inform here in my blog when our Kickstarter project has been launchedso that anyone reading my blog and willing to get involved can easily do so. We estimate that it will be about 2 more weeks until we are ready to go live with it.

Once again huge congratulations to Waitiare for completing her first movie project and looking forward to the next success!

PS: There’s a lot of photos of which most I had nothing to do with. To alleviate any misunderstanding I have not been to the island (yet) and was not part of this production in any way.

 

 

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Zombie Walk! Braaaains!!!

Last week I was approached by my classmates to come and help shoot Zombie Walk Santiago 2012. As an uninformed foreigner I had no idea whatsoever what a “Zombie Walk” was, but it definitely tickled my interest so I happily accepted. I didn’t have any idea about the scope of the event so I was surprised to hear that we were expecting over 8000 zombies to march through the city to the final location where there was a stage and a concert. I was asked to shoot a timelapse sequence of the park when the zombies finally arrived to the scene. When they finally did they were about 12 000 and it truly was an unique sight. Some people had taken the dressing up part very very seriously and you could see a few excellent zombie interpretations.

 

I was educated that this whole Zombie Walk phenomenon is actually a worldwide underground happening that they hold especially in the big cities in the US. Usually it has a vague social agenda like for example famines or consumerism. I do however think that most people were merely wanting to dress as zombies and frighten the onlookers. Some of the costumes were extremely macabre and funny in a horrendous way and there were even zombie childeren with bloody faces and bloody dresses. My chilean friends asked me if we did Zombie Walks in Finland and I answered “Not that I know of”, but after taking a quick look at Wikipedia the first Zombie Walk in Finland was held in Helsinki on 2006 and the latest was this year in Tampere with 20 000 participants. How did I not know anything about this? I don’t know and I can not come up with a plausible excuse.

 

It was a really funny day and I took a lot of pictures since I had the backstage access and could shoot from the best possible angles. Here we go, braaaaaaaaains!!! Oh sorry that was wrong or so would a “purist” tell you; quote from Wikipedia: “Zombie behavior is a hot topic of debate. Purists who draw their definitions from the original Romero Living Dead films will claim that a zombie would never have the ability to call for ‘brains’ and furthermore that a zombie needs only living or freshly killed flesh for its sustenance, and not the brain in particular.”

 

PS: My friend just told me that she had seen me on TV in a story about the event :D

 

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Coming Soon!

I am really looking forward to sharing my written articles in a beautiful multimedia format. My first entry is almost finished, but I still need to figure out the details with my publisher.