"Herein it is the same with the American whale fishery as with the American army and military and merchant navies, and the engineering forces employed in the construction of the American Canals and Railroads. The same, I say, because in all these cases the native American liberally provides the brains, the rest of the world as generously supplying the muscles. No small number of these whaling seamen belong to the Azores, where the outward bound Nantucket whalers frequently touch to augment their crews from the hardy peasants of those rocky shores... How it is, there is no telling, but Islanders seem to make the best whalemen. They were nearly all Islanders in the Pequod, Isolatoes too, I call such, not acknowledging the common continent of men, but each Isolato living on a separate continent of his own. Yet now, federated along one keel, what a set these Isolatoes were!"(Herman Melville)
Isolatoes (isolatoes.isabelmar.com) is a multi-media web project based on Moby Dick. The title comes form chapter 27, Knights and Squires, where Melville uses the term isolatoes to refer to the ship's crew. Each chapter is visually interpreted in the form of a web page which includes a mix of digital still images, moving gifs, videos and text. My interpretations of chapters are meant to function much like traditional collage in the spirit of Kurt Schwitters' merz.
When this project was initiated in 2008, one of my interests was the growing availability of free education on-line. I had become a fan of UC Berkeley Professor Hubert Dreyfus' philosophy lectures available to the public on itunes. These courses included Philosophy 6: Man, God and Society in Western Literature where Moby Dick was covered. The Isolatoes project is inspired by the novel's remarkable content and structure.
The videos included here are embedded into various chapters on the project site. During the same period of time I also made a series of paintings interpreting selected chapters.
The Whiteness of the Whale (Chapter 42), 2008, two-channel video, 1:40 minutes
The Prophet, (Chapter 19), 2009, two-channel video, 2:38 minutes
The Line (Chapter 60), 2009, 0:22 minutes
The Mast-Head (Chapter 35), 2009, 1:05 minutes