Iceland Airwaves is winding down and the tourist count in Reykjavík has shifted dramatically. Visitors have returned home and the city is settling back to normal. It’s our last day in Iceland. This week I spent a great morning discussing Icelandic politics (a huge thanks to Líf Magneudóttir, Ólafur Hardarson, and Eva Einarsdóttir for taking the time to talk with me!). I experienced the variety of Iceland’s amazing landscape, including the incredible view from a mountain of an Icelandic geyser, valley, and farmland. I saw the expanse of a frost covered field and mountains scattered in the distance. It was a landscape like I’d never seen before. It felt so remote and apart from anything I’d experienced and it was a refreshing break from a stressful semester.
I saw the incredible Björk Digital exhibit at Harpa and experienced virtual reality for the first time. The opening of the exhibit, two screens in a black room projecting split images of Björk across Iceland’s landscape, was emotional and beautiful. The 360-degree speakers around the room played “Blake Lake” than I’d ever heard it before, and seeing the emotion in Björk’s face was so intense. The virtual reality was otherworldly, especially the visual for “Family Tree,” where we were given remote controls that turned to hands in the virtual reality goggles. The goggles brought to a scene, gliding over a hazy pink mountain range. Accompanied with the ambient sounds of strings and electronics, it was an experience I’ve never had before.
Another highlight was getting the chance to swim in the Fontana Hot Springs. After a beautiful drive through Iceland’s countryside, we made our way to the base of the hill where a series of pools lay at the edge of a clear lake. The sight was unreal, and the geothermally heated pools were soothing, even in the upper 30 degree weather outside. I also experienced a sauna there for the first time and it was… alright. But what a unique experience, to be in those hot springs in such an otherworldly environment.
I got the chance to see so many great bands this week too (and an abundance of laptops on stage. I guess that’s where Icelandic music is at right now). My favorite by far was the surprisingly beautiful and emotive performance from Ljóðfæri. Ljóðfæri were a father-son duo, the father reads his poetry while the son creates sound art behind him. It was an incredibly intimate set, performed all in on play through. I was surprised and thankful that in even the quietest moments of transition, the audience did not clap or speak. It was so interesting the see the musical dynamic of a father-son duo, and so many questions come up about their work dynamic. Regardless, I love the though that the son loves his father’s poetry, and the father loves his son’s music, and they respect each other’s art so much to put it together. I even saw the father watching his son’s set in another band at Gamla Bío later in the week!
This week has been incredible. It’s been an experience like I’ve never had before, and it’s incredibly refreshing to do something so out of the ordinary to get out of the headspace of the stress of life back home. I feel rejuvenated, but ready to go back. I miss playing music and I miss Chicago, but I know I needed this trip to get me through the rest of the semester.