What makes a day in ‘The Land Where The Sun Never Sets’

October 11, 2023

Haley Dunleavy

Artist Sophie Morrell found the components of her Toolik-inspired artwork in the exact same way Toolik staff found her art, using a simple Google search.

Morrell, an emerging visual artist living in Portsmouth, UK, was thinking about the concept of time when the midnight sun sparked her imagination. She began to explore ideas around sunlight and what constitutes a day, letting her curiosity and play drive her process. 

Eventually that curiosity prompted her to search for live webcam feeds of the never-setting Arctic sun and found Toolik’s. It resulted in her creating "The Land Where The Sun Never Sets,” a digital composite of color data from Toolik’s time-lapse photos as the sun circles the sky.

gradient of blue and yellow color changes as the sun circles the sky
Image by Sophie Morrell
The Land Where The Sun Never Sets, 2023

To make the art piece, Morrell sampled colors from Toolik’s webcam images one evening in mid-summer, every hour between 20:30 to 7:30, creating a gradient of light.

The digital work is part of her developing project, titled “emit,” which looks at how humans navigate reality with light and time. In the midnight sun, Morrell said, “Our ways of associating day and night with light and dark become obstructed.” A feeling to which many in the Toolik community can relate.

“If the sun doesn’t set, can a day said to have passed at all? Or is it that two days blend into one larger sequence,” she added.

Morrell said she hopes her pieces inspire others to think more freely and playfully, not only with our external reality but within ourselves.

“Particularly in Western society, everything is so fast paced. We run everything by two hands that pass tiny little dashes, that go round in a circle, that only possess their function because of an assigned numerical value,” she said. “I want to challenge what we understand our fixed reality to be and what we think time is, in hope for people to look more outwardly from oneself and to slow down, to simply enjoy being.”

CONTACTS: Haley Dunleavy, hdunleavy@alaska.edu, 907-474-6407