Washed Ashore

Final Project by Volodymyr Kolbasa | MA Digital Narratives
Germany 2020 | Сross-media project | VR Experience & Feature Documentary Film | VR experience – 15 Min. / Documentary – 90 Min.


Vision Statement

Cross-media project which tells a story of a myth created around a sunken city and villages which was flooded in 60s during the construction of the biggest artificial reservoir in Europe in Soviet-occupied Ukraine.
Feature long documentary tells a story of a man who picks the artifacts while walking along the shore or divining in the deeps of the lake.
Interactive VR-experience which presents the metaphorical world of lost stories of a sunken city told through artifacts washed upon ashore.

Synopsis

That was the first time I saw that much water. In the late eighties, my parents and I came to enjoy the Kremenchug Sea as everyone called that enormous reservoir.
I remember that my father, who himself spent his early years in that area, gave me something resembling a rusty dagger, which he found in the water by the shore.
The idea of how many stories the water could hold in it struck me that day. Much later I learned that when my father was as old as I was that day, there was no sea there.
Three decades later, when I returned to those shores again, I wandered along the shore stumbling upon the remains of bricks, human and animal bones, empty bottles, and shoes carried ashore. Big water seemed to tease me through these artifacts, giving only hints of a phrase, showing only a corner of the page of the book from afar. This project is an attempt to restore the scraps of memory of the whole city and the two hundred villages that were flooded with it 60 years ago in yet another gigantomaniac project of another insane regime. How come that by now so little people remember about them?

Core Idea

The main idea of this project is the idea of reviving memories and stories which seemed long lost, non-existent and therefore, obviously, inaccessible in both ludic, game-like and film formats. As it is impossible to reconstruct lost memories, we dive deep into the night storyworld of the story, to search the myths it has produced and create our own myth. A poetic interpretation of the ruined palace of memory.

Historical Background

The city is gone. 60 years ago along with 200 villages it was flooded when Soviet regime tried to built the biggest artificial lakes cascade in Europe. Nothing is left. Gardens have been cut down, and houses have been burned or dismantled. Now we can only walk along the shore and look at what is washed ashore. And this is the way the flooded city talks to us.

Film

An old man stands on the lake shore. He used to come here for decades day by day, alone and with his kids.
He used to collect everything which washed ashore. On the shore that only 60 years ago used to be a street.
A city is gone. Flooded 60 years ago along with 200 villages when the Soviet regime in Ukraine decided to build the largest artificial lakes cascade in Europe. But even underwater nothing had left.
Houses were deconstructed or burnt, garden trees chopped people we stressed to move out against their will.
But is there any chance that something is still there? It is a story of people whom we have met on this shore.
An old man, whose house was also flooded, and who created a collection of what water has brought back, thus reconstructing his memory. A diver, who seeks a prehistoric whale skeleton and mammoth teeth on the bottom of the lake. An artist who wants to recreate a flooded garden in his installation.
A “black archaeologist” who searches the sand to find anything one can sell.
An ecologist who dreams the lake to be drained.
Somewhere deep in a murky darkness, like a big sleeping prehistoric whale, the memory floats between surface and bottom never reaching any of them.

VR

User can walk along the shore to see artifacts in the water.
To learn the story user pulls the net out of the water. As the net gets pulled out user sees an artifact stuck in it and as an artifact gets closer to the user it turns into cloud of particles and flies around the virtual environment triggering models appearance and sound and video playback through which the story narrative is presented.

World

Lonesome shore of the sea of forgotten memories in the world which has no top or bottom. Whales of memories which inhabit the sea feast on story bits. When they die their skeletons hang in the sky because top and bottom are looped in this game world. There are artifacts in the sea, nets and old boats on the shore. The shore itself is a part of an island which sits on a back of another huge whale.

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