Yannic Bartolozzi

There is a strong activity just above us


The sign read: “ICI-4: scientific rocket sent into Aurora Borealis”.

It was somewhat by chance that I discovered the existence of a project concerned with the study of the Aurora Borealis and it didn’t take long before I had decided to begin making photographs of this scientific research.

In February 2015 I made a first trip to the spatial center of Andoya in the north of Norway. We were waiting for more than 10 days for the winds to calm down so that the ICI-4 rocket could be launched. The plan was to fire the device into the heart of an Aurora Borealis in order to better understand how the luminous phenomenon disrupts GPS transmissions sent from satellites to the earth.

“The launch is perfect! The experiment is a success!”

Nine months later, I made a second trip that led me to the Spitzberg where I visited other research centers specialized in exploring the Arctic phenomenon. Among them, was the monumental EISCAT satellite dishes that had also contributed to the ICI-4 launch, the Kjell-Henrikssen observatory and the SUPERDARN radar that was built for the study of magnetic storms.

However, despite all these efforts and infrastructures, the contemplation of the Aurora Borealis remains a mystery and should be seen as an act of humility, one that goes beyond scientific explanation.

Through this project I have used personal experiences and facts in order to push science towards fiction and maybe even science-fiction. The scientist becomes an explorer who ventures into the dangers of an unwelcoming territory– where the smallness of man faces unknown infinite and monumental dimensions.

Despite all efforts, ambitions and technological resources the work of the scientific explorer seems to remain an impossible and idealistic quest in search of meaning and deeper understanding.


Text translation: Marwan Bassiouni