The Destruction of Royal Gardens 198?/2016

16mm footage by George Patrick Leonard Walker (1926 - 2005)
Produced by Breidalssetur Geology Center (Christa and Martin Feucht) 

Original music and foley by Hermione Spriggs & Curtis Tamm
Animation by HS
Sound Design & Editing by CT

For fifteen years in the 1970s and ‘80s GPL Walker worked as Chair of the Volcanology Department at the University of Hawaii, where he intimately studied and photographed the pahoehoe and a’a lava flows incessantly overtaking the local roads and coral reefs of Maui. Our second short film resulting from the work at Breiddalsettur Geology Center in East Iceland features a 16mm time lapse taken by Walker of one such flow destroying an inhabited area known as “Royal Gardens” over the course of an entire day. The almost invisible movements of the molten rock and lava are rendered lifelike and viscous in his time-condensed footage.

For this piece we intercut an animation created from thousands of diagrams and drawings produced by George for an unfinished manuscript, a project he was unable to complete before his death in 2005.

Known only as “The Book” in his archives, the writings feature ten chapters rigorously describing different types of flow which emanate from volcanic action; from tephra clouds, falling deposits, and underwater landslides, to a’a rubble and pahoehoe lava rivers. We were privileged to gain unexpected access to Walker’s unpublished manuscript which clearly constitutes a key textbook on geological rheology. This film work pulls from Walker’s text to appropriate the flow-dynamics of lava itself as a “sorting mechanism” and filmic treatment of the archival material.