This Photographer Teaches You the Art of the Digital Detox

“I believe the need to explore is a fundamental aspect of being human. I see it as a force that has been essential for human existence throughout our history.”
- Øystein Aspelund

As we’ve enjoyed in several of his previous projects, such as HIBERNATION IV, photographer Øystein Aspelund has an eye for desolate, natural landscapes. The Norwegian’s latest ongoing project, Getting Lost, focusses on the complicated relationship between nature and humans. Minimal scenes, forgotten architecture and abandoned apparatus – the images of Getting Lost show areas of Norway in all their remoteness.

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Øystein knows how to divert his viewer’s attention to desolate places and makes a point of doing so: from his perspective, humans have demanded more of nature than nature has of humans. This makes the few untouched regions which remain all the more alluring.

We spoke with Øystein about getting lost and the best places to do so.

THE PLUS: What about the theme of getting lost interests you?
Øystein Aspelund: I believe the need to explore is a fundamental aspect of being human. I see it as a force that has been essential for human existence throughout our history. These days, GPS and smartphones pin out our exact locations as we walk. They tell us how to reach our final destination the most convenient way. By doing this, they also takes us further away from the sensations of discovery and exploration. The idea of the series is to focus on and bring back some of these elements which are fading away in most people’s current lifestyles.

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TP: Which locations did you visit for this project?
ØA: I visited Svalbard and Patagonia, as well as several Eastern European countries such as the Ukraine, Macedonia and Latvia. But most of the locations are from mainland Norway.

TP: How did you discover these places — what did the selection process look like?
ØA: I discovered some of these places while doing research. Others simply appeared by chance while travelling or when I was on vacation. Many times I also travelled to areas I expected to find interesting motives that could fit the concept and style of this series.

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TP: What’s your view on the relationship between landscapes and humans?
ØA: Humans can’t exist without landscapes, and we can’t live without nature. I see it as a tight, dual relationship, with landscape opposed to man. But this duality is in a constant change. Along with progress and expansion, we are making further modifications to the landscape. These days we appear to play a more and more dominant role in this relationship, thus moving the balance between man and nature in one direction. Whether this is good or not is a whole different discussion. However, I think this is something very characteristic for the time we live in.

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TP: Your introduction to this project says that it “plays on our basic need to find answers and explanations of what we do not immediately understand.” Can you expand on that?
ØA: In this series, I intend to present motives and places that create curiosity and questions. I also hope to trigger the viewer’s fantasy, dreams and imagination. I believe an image that accomplishes this can remain interesting longer-term. This relates to our need to explore, to get knowledge and seek answers. When we see something unexplainable, uncommon or confusing, it will most likely spark our interest in a certain way.

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TP: Do you think it’s important to find an escape from everyday life and its routines?
ØA: Yes. For me that’s true on a personal level. I think that most people, on a certain level, have the need to make new discoveries, experiences and encounters. But many people also need and embrace aspects of everyday life and its routines. It depends on who you are.

TP: What place makes you feel the most comfortable?
ØA: Right now, it would be a place where I can truly relax. A nice cabin where I can spend some days having a digital detox – without the internet or a phone connection. Presumably, that would be in a remote spot with a fresh cold wind, along with an interesting and unspoilt landscape.

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