Monthly Archives: April 2013

a Moby-Dick adaptation that brings the Whiteness of the Whale to life as a female character

From today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution review of the SAIAH production of John Gentile’s adaptation of Moby-Dick:

Obviously, a major challenge of bringing Herman Melville’s story to the stage was the fact that one of the main characters weighs 90 tons and lives in the ocean.

“I immediately moved to a more symbolic and abstract idea, which is something that live theater can do so well,” says Gentile. “The concept became: How do we embody the essence of the whale?” In the production, actress Briana Brock plays the Whiteness of the Whale, a beautiful, spectral female presence in a world of men.

“It’s something very different than what you’d expect in a production of ‘Moby-Dick,’” says Gentile. “It creates a sense of otherness about her. You have this male crew, and then this one female figure.”

Every page of Moby-Dick, illustrated

The fabulous Matt Kish, who illustrated every page of his copy of Moby-Dick using found paper and common art materials (and his uncommon imagination), is contributing to the Remaking Moby-Dick project. We were able to sit down for a great conversation with him a few weeks ago, and we will share both that conversation and selected images as part of the project. What a brilliant, gracious person.

You can see his images at his blog, Spudd 64.  But you really need to hold the book in your hands and turn the pages. 

Project 119L (Moby Dick)

Scanned in from print photograph (circa 1955)

To read all about the recon project:

the 1956 Elijah: our favorite

Do you have a favorite Elijah portrayal from any of the film or stage adaptations of Moby-Dick?

(We love Royal Dano’s performance in the 1956 version.)

four queequegs

scrimshaw by Robert Weiss

George Klauba, Queequeg with Japanese Tattoos Transformed

Joseph Wheelwright, Queequeg, 1998 42″x41″x18″ Conch Shell Sections,Epoxy, Steel

Sculptor: Abraham Mohler

what, and how, do whales see?

Using images from Bryant Austin’s gorgeous book Beautiful Whale, Alexis Madrigal explores the topic in an Atlantic article:

“as Austin puts it, the whale challenges him “to reevaluate our perceptions of intelligent, conscious life on this planet.” This mammal’s eye — lens, cornea, pupil, retina, photoreceptors and ganglion nerve cells — is a direct passageway into its brain. And when we look at it, Austin can’t help but see an intelligence there, a connection to a brain that, perhaps, works enough like ours for us to understand each other.”


“Whales, unlike nocturnal rodents or ourselves, see the world in monochrome. Leo Peichl at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research co-authored a paper with the nearly tragic title, “For whales and seals the ocean is not blue.” Indeed, the first thing that we can know for sure about how whales see the world is that it exists only in shades of gray. The water we see as blue they would see as black. “They do want to see the background. They want to see animals on the background. And the animals on the background are reflecting light that’s not blue,” Johnsen explained. If we try to imagine what that might look like, Johnsen said perhaps we could picture a grayscale photograph of people wearing fluorescent clothes under a black light.”

It’s a fascinating read.


Jon Cornforth’s spectacular photos of a whale breach

The photographer spent 90 minutes in the water with the whales, and then … the breach. You must see these images.

How to Join the Remaking Moby-Dick Project

The Remaking Moby-Dick project is currently soliciting expressive responses to Herman Melville’s novel Moby-Dick.


The Re-Making Moby-Dick project is an international multimodal storytelling performance instigated and enacted over several months during 2013. Poets, writers, artists, schoolchildren, scholars, dancers, curators, and sailors are invited to engage the project and participate via the means most natural to their expressive practice. The 135 chapters, along with the extracts, inscription, epigraph, and epilogue, of Herman Melville’s 1851 novel serve as prompts for responsive work created in multiple forms, recorded in digital video and exhibited online. Your creative expressions will contribute to Melville’s already unwieldy and materially eccentric text, supplying new means by which to capture and release the essence of the “white whale” at the core of the text. We invite poets to respond with poetry, storytellers with stories, photographers with images of the sea, painters and printmakers with new work, museum curators with commentary, graffiti artists with whales on walls, school-children with their own stories and reactions, dancers with movement and gesture, scholars with interpretation and analysis, and sailors with their own complementary narratives. Each response will be aligned with single chapters and core elements of the work and documented on video so that all 139 prompts are addressed, each at least once and by a different participant.

The resulting video will be screened in a public location in Karlskrona, Sweden during the Mixing Realities Digital Performance Festival in May 2013. The festival will foreground mixed reality works presented by scholars, curators, and International artists working across media (in sound, video, augmented reality, digital and live performance, dance).

After the festival, we will repurpose and re-contextualize the project artifacts, offering yet another “text” published online and in print form that can be shared with a wider audience, along with the original work from the festival, as a further extension of the project.

Re-Making Moby-Dick and the Mixing Realities Digital Performance Festival are funded by Art Line, a South Baltic Programme EU Project exploring art innovation in public, physical, and digital space.


Responses should either engage ideas specific to separate chapters or passages in Moby-Dick or critically interpret some aspect of the novel, extending the meaning and significance of Moby-Dick and reflecting on its continued relevance. The full text of Moby-Dick is available at Project Gutenberg.  Chapter synopses are available at Novel Guide.


Responses can take almost any original form (artistic or critical, individual or collaborative).  We are looking for images, video, recorded responses, and texts including essays and poems and anecdotes.


Please submit files via email to Include “Remaking Moby” in the subject line, and be sure to include your name in the email.  You can also submit work via Submittable and at our youtube channel.  All submitted work will be considered for both the festival and print+web phases of the project.


Submissions can be uploaded from January 1 – May 8, 2013. We look forward to viewing what you create and share.


Contact Trish Harris,, project curator, with questions and ideas.


Want to listen to Moby-Dick? Sure you do.

Two sources for an audio Moby:





bowhead whales: the hunt (and video of whales communicating)

From the Alaska Dispatch, a story

image: Goldie Crisci

(and video) not to be missed.