The Soundscape of Southern Iceland

The Southern Highlands of Iceland is the subject of an  unique video, or soundscape, made by Jamie Goldrick (web/Instagram). When I watched it I was impressed that it featured the the old and beautiful poem Verses of Vatnsenda Rósa (1795–1855). In the poem Rósa confesses her love and admiration of an unnamed man whose identity we shall never discover.

You can learn more about Southern Iceland in the Iceland Destination Guide provided by Iceland Travel.

Anyway, the video features lovely scenery from such places as Landmannalaugar, Hvanngil, and the Syðri Emstruá river.

The highlands of Southern Iceland look mysterious and gloomy.
The highlands of Southern Iceland look mysterious and gloomy.

Hello Jamie, thank you for sharing this video from the highlands of Southern Iceland with us. Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I am a freelance writer and filmmaker based in Dublin, Ireland.

Jamie Goldrick wanted to show the highlands of Southern Iceland in a new light.
Jamie Goldrick wanted to show the highlands of Southern Iceland in a new light.

What inspired you to create the video?

This is my second time in Iceland and my second time walking the Laugavegur trail in Southern Iceland. I wanted to make a film which covers this spectacular route. I was also mindful that I wanted to make a short film which was a departure from a lot of generic travel videos that are coming out of Iceland these days. The island in parts is so rugged, inhospitable and unforgiving, what struck me when I was there is how small and inconsequential to this world that this landscape made me feel.

The landscape of Southern Iceland makes you feel small and inconsequential.
The landscape of Southern Iceland makes you feel small and inconsequential.

When I look at the multitude of travel videos coming out of Iceland in recent years and I see the opposite, I see human experience given centre focus, for example the cliched shot of somebody wearing a yellow PVC jacket on Vik beach cut with superduper drone footage set to the backdrop of some epic Sigur Ros or M83 track. Like, these videos look great, but lack depth and I feel that they somewhat misrepresent the frontier aspect of Icelandic culture.

For this reason I chose to shoot in black and white to (a) focus on the form of the landscape and (b) to omit any people in the shots to make the landscape centre stage.

What were the main challenges you faced when creating the video?

The main challenge for me was walking the full 55km of the Laugavegur trail with my camera, monopod, sound recorder while carrying my tent, food and hiking equipment.

You are using the Verses of Vatnsenda Rósa which I really like, what is the reason for that?

Quite simply,I was looking for traditional Icelandic music on youtube for days and this was the standout track of what I was looking for, also I felt there was a great contrast with the Fennesz track Black Sea that I ended the piece with.

What were your favorite places you discovered during your traveling in Iceland?

The highlands were really special, Thorsmork was absolutely beautiful.

What advice do you have for people visiting Iceland?

Get out of Reykjavik as quick as you can! The city appears to be struggling with the sheer number of visitors and the character of the city and the warmth of the people has understandably suffered. The warm welcome and curiosity towards that I felt on my first visit was distinctly missing on this visit but can still be found outside the city.

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The Soundscape of Southern Iceland

time to read: 2 min