Starting the Research

The motivation to start digging into this story was, to a great degree, personal. I was ten years old at the time the supposed meteorite landed, and lived in Florø, which was the town closest to the event. The event was mystical; it was connected with celestial objects, and it put my insignificant spot in the world on the map for a short time. However, I recognized that the subject matter had many layers beyond personal motivation. It had a kind of condensed character that I wanted to unpack. The event also greatly fed into my imagination. It elicited sentiments, energy, and ideas about aesthetic possibilities. 


In 2014, I wanted to get hold of the footage that the NRK had recorded in 1979. As I mentioned above, they sent out one of their journalists and a diver to put together a news story about the event. I contacted the NRK archival department, and they found the original footage that had been taken in 1979 (not including the news story). The following is a brief description of this footage. 


The recording starts with a shot above the ice from a distance. The hole in the ice is visible from there. In the next shot, the camera has moved under the ice, and we are observing the diver entering the water under the ice and starting his search in the darkness. We hear the journalist up above having a conversation with the diver, we hear heavy breathing through the regulator, we hear water bubbles. The diver swims in the muddy water with a strong underwater lamp. We start to see the bottom, and perhaps a stone. The reporter asks whether the diver can see anything. The diver answers, “I see a meteorite.” The diver reports that it is so muddy that he has to leave the place. At the end of the footage, we see the diver from beneath, swimming toward the light and the hole in the ice. A person on the ice pulls the diver up, out of the water. Although I found the underwater footage interesting, it was the conversation between the journalist and the diver, the sound of the water, the breathing, and some kind of unidentifiable clicking sound (probably from the diving equipment) that caught my attention.


This is the only live footage ‘of the event’ that exists. However — and here the issue becomes muddy in a different way — what is seen and heard is not really the event itself. It could, perhaps, rather be described as footage of the ‘search for the aftermath of the eventListening to the footage many times, and knowing the inconclusive outcome of the story, the diver and the journalist’s efforts to create meaning in that situation is almost touching. It is as if they wanted to keep the ‘fiction’ alive, to prevent the whole thing from evaporating. A relevant reference here is a scene in Blow Up by Michelangelo Antonioni, a film that grapples with philosophical questions regarding fiction and reality. In the last scene in the film, the protagonist (a photographer) is watching two people pantomiming a tennis game. One of them pantomimes hitting the ball so that it lands outside of the court, and they wait for the photographer to return it to them. After some time, he pretends to pick up the fictitious ball and throw it back to the players. The scene suggests that if the fiction is going to continue, he has to participate. Furthermore, it suggests that the distinction between fiction and reality is not clear, and the sense we make of situations is based on our contribution to them.   


An artist who has explored the space in between reality and fiction in many of her projects is Fiona Tan. Her works have often been a search for meaning, which is relevant here. In the film May You Live in Interesting Times (1997), she attempted to reconstruct her family history. Tan’s family originated in China and spread across the whole world. At the end of the film, she reaches the small, rural town from which her parents had emigrated; a place where some people still bear the name Tan. The journey back to the origin results in a recognition that there is no single origin. Little is being explained in this film, and she concludes by saying that “it started with a search,” but now she is “searching for the search.” This aspect became evident as I delved into the material about the meteorite. Not only were the journalist, the diver, and the locals in the film searching for something intangible, but I was doing the same as well.