In 1999 Florian Mehnert developed with the Iceland Project a first concept about building up a communication platform on the Internet: even before social networks were developed. The main topic of this project was the confrontation with the strong basic human need for communication and self-portrayal.
Suddenly, the internet made a worldwide realtime exchange towards many people possible.
First chat rooms on the website of the project with the possibility to upload and comment pictures were enthusiastically accepted by users worldwide. The concept of the Island Project was to show how the Internet, with its expanded global communication capability, would enhance and change the society in its economy, culture and self-understanding.
The Iceland project wanted to question one's own perception, also in the sense of the temporally relative perception of reality, and the past (self-observation).
The Iceland Project looked to the future and should enable the exchange and reflection about what has become a matter of course today through live webcams (whose recordings would be stored forever) and chats: the permanent self-representation in real time.
Florian Mehnert began in 1999 with the realization of the elaborate project, which remained unfinished.
Iceland Project building In the lava fields of Iceland, between Keflavik, the airport and Reykjavik, a project building was planed. The building should be audiovisually displayed on the Internet via livestream webcams. The building should serve as an analogue meeting place to network worldwide and to be public worldwide.
The first ContactChatroom
The first contact with the Iceland Project is via the Internet. Via a chat platform, the visitor communicates with other people participating in the internet as well as with real people present in the building. In order to physically participate in the Iceland project, one books a flight directly to Iceland to enter the project building there. Every visitor is shown live on the internet and communicates inside the building with real people or via the chat room with virtual people. The physical presence within the project building is recorded and stored via the webcams. After the coming back home, the participant recalls his own recorded visit on the basis of a registration. This gives them the opportunity to observe themselves in the project building and to relate them to their memories.
1: The "self" of a person is isolated within itself. Only through activity, by consciously sending one or more signals, can a person get in touch with another. Only then does an exchange take place between people. Through the Island Project the participant gets the opportunity to deal with his basic need for verbal and visual communication. Through communication he overcomes his perceived isolation.
2: The Iceland Project points to the basic need of communication. Globalism here means the need of the individual to be visible to many people at the same time, regardless of their local position, to be perceived audiovisually. Those who are physically in the project building are visually and acoustically represented on the Internet and can communicate with anyone who is online in the Iceland Project. Through the stay in the project building, and the associated global audiovisual presence, the visitor steps out of his perceived isolation. Those who step out of the project building back into the lava field take the step back into an environment where they can only be perceived locally.
3: Iceland itself, through its isolated geographical location and sociological development, reflects the issue of the need to participate in global communication.
The concept of the Island Project was to show how the Internet, with its expanded global communication capability, would expand society in its economy, culture and self-image.
As an island, Iceland symbolizes a form of isolation. In contrast, the building of the Island Project enables global audiovisual communication. Through his journey to Iceland, one enters, geographically speaking, into a spatial isolation. By entering the project building, the participant experiences the connection to global communication. In this tense relationship, isolation and global communication face each other in the Iceland Project.