International Scientific Conference "Archeology of the Arctic"
November 19-23, 2017

Arctic ethno-design.

A.V. Golovnev

Peter the Great museum of anthropology and ethnography RAS (Kunstkamera), Sankt-Petersburg





The tundra environment, which Nenets culture is based upon, is tuned up to mobility, changeability and maneuver — this is the essence of Arctic nature itself. By various ways it rejects any heavy static constructions, which modern industry uses to introduce; it reacts by landscape mortification, puff-ups or melting of permafrost, soil erosion and unhealthy “fistulas” (like dismal craters in vicinity of gas-rigs). The Arctic nature strongly recommends for contemporary civilization to learn from nomads their light movement and flexible adaptation, strategies of spatial control, usage of mobile modules, twists of transformer, as well as other mobile technologies.

Ethnodesign as a study on ethnically original technologies and their contemporary relevance bears a feature obviously important for science, i.e. total pragmatism. In a case of the Arctic nomads, this aspect implies a usage of new methods of movement recording — MTA (mapping–tracking–acting), including visual data such as UAV mapping, GPS-tracking and 3D modeling. The nomadic technologies of reindeer herders from Yamal Peninsula, in their multidimensional complexity, from the space-time design of mobile camps on the open tundra to multi-functionality of material things, enable and facilitate mobility in the extreme environment of the Arctic. The nomadic tradition contains the whole array of concepts (or principles), which, on the one hand, are ultimately practical, and on the other, they deserve a theoretical projection. These include: continuous space-timeness, nomadic transformer, mobile module, movement effect, techno-animation, material austerity, Northern aesthetics.

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