THE YO-YO LECTURE
video made with photographs and sound, 10:11 minutes
Living with nine people in the polar night, our world was small but intense. All our actions and our routines seemed to acquire symbolic significance. My fascination with the word yo-yo is one example. I had brought a yo-yo on board to play with and I began to photograph my crew-mates playing with this toy. It was when I started assisting one of our scientists with CTD soundings that I learned that the yo-yo was also a term for measuring the top 50 meters of the ocean. Up and down. Up and down.
One day I glimpsed our orange yo-yo on the table, the string making a similar pattern to our drift in the pack ice. Left, Right, North, South, East and West. Indeed drifting through the frozen arctic ocean was like a yo-yo : never being in the same place twice, never knowing where we would go next.
The yo-yo became an iconic part of my arctic world. Having no access to the internet, I could not conduct my own research into the history of the yo-yo, but an iridium phone enabled me to communicate with Gabrielle at Dispatch back in New York to do research for me. The turn-around time for the information could be several days to a week and I would wait impatiently for the next installment of the legal troubles of American yo-yo manufacturing king Donald Duncan as he fought the US trademark law to own the word yo-yo. The US courts had ruled that the word yo-yo had entered into everyday speech, a word found in many corners of the world:even in our northern-most corner.
The Yo-Yo Lecture was first presented at approximately 80° 45'N, 03° 03'W for my crew-mates during our Thursday night lecture series. It is comprised almost entirely of still photographs, the images emailed to me by Gabrielle, in addition to images I found in the ship’s library. The sound was recorded during an ocean sounding as the pulley lowers the CTD into the ocean to make a yo-yo. Subtitles in the two working languages of the expedition: English and French.