Island of Multitude

How is the world seen by an island – a place made of multitudes, living and nonliving? The space and time through multispecies viewpoint is infinitely complex and narrowing it down to linear film might seem impossible. Island of Multitude gets entangled in the island’s complex world following and building connections between different agents of the island. The contact points are observed from multiple perspectives with each new viewpoint forming an even more complex web. In the end this film is just one story out of the millions that unfold on the island on a daily basis.

Island of Multitude is a conclusion of a year-long research on the island of Uuluti, located in the Baltic Sea, off the coast of West Estonia. It started as an exploration of island space and the human and non-human stories that are formed on islands. One of the first things that comes to mind when thinking of islands is their defining aspects related to space – they are isolated. The experience of space is different depending how you travel in it, therefore the first step of getting to know this island was to approach it in numerous ways – walking through the sea like the cows, flying with a drone like a seagull, or floating across the sea as the ripped-up algae.

To research I started with autoethnographic methods of observing my own thoughts and behaviour on the island and observed the similarities and differences with the other-than-human-beings in the same space and situations. To fully grasp the endless possibilities of being on/in/above the island I tried to experience space in as many ways as possible. I slept on the beach, ate on top of the boulder, crawled through the juniper thickets, climbed a pine tree and stood in the roaring sea.

There are as many ways of seeing the island as there are beings experiencing it, and each perspective is valuable in its own right. Uuluti is filled with stories and entangled relations between living and nonliving. It is also a place where humans and nature together create a diverse and rich environment where humans are equal agents to the cows, seabirds, lichen and stones. This entangled existence is the type of story worth telling.

The next step of the research was to gather the materials from archives to understand the cultural layer of the island. Despite Uuluti being uninhabited the cultural significance of island space can’t be ignored. It’s a place where, according to the local legends, the world was created on an island. Now it hosts the biodiverse habitats that can only be born out of a collaboration between nature and culture. These positive stories of cohabitation were the most important things I took from my time spent on Uuluti island.

In the middle of an ecological crisis, it’s important to also tell stories that are not only in the state of fighting but more casual stories that portray the world that we want to live in. Other than imagining the apocalypse we could think of worlds that are positive and functioning. It’s crucial to tell stories of worlds that we want to live in. We don’t need to wait for the world to end to start a new one.