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To mark the release of the first Gore-Tex jackets by Norse Projects, Rokkvi 3.0 GORE-TEX® & Thor Mac GORE-TEX®, I directed a campaign that celebrates adventure and fashion. The jackets are lightweight and fully waterproof. They have been designed for use as practical and fashionable items in all weather.

Working directly with the brand on concept and development we decided to test the jacket in Iceland, where rain is guaranteed. The featured cast is an out-door guide, and actor, with numerous features on his CV. The outcome is a series of images detailing the precise workmanship of the clothing against Iceland’s iconic landscapes.

An accompanying film portrays a love affair between Iceland’s rich scenery and Norse Projects contemporary Nordic design. Travelling through lava fields, onto glaciers and across volcanic beaches the film flows between the natural elements and the jacket’s performance.

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Flows leads you on a journey never before taken, exploring the aquifer on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, investigating the links between ecosystems. The viewer is challenged to rethink ecosystems and consider water as one unity, underlining the importance of saving and protecting all water-bodies.

Flows has unique footage from the air and underwater, taking you more than a kilometre into a submerged cave system to see the incredible mirror mirage where salt and fresh water meets and much more.

The film provides a diverse mix of visually stunning scenes including coral and barrier reefs, aquatic animal species, the expansive underwater river system, Sian Ka’an Marine Reserve, tropical mangrove forests, and the ocean juxtaposed with the challenges of construction, tourism, unsustainable development and corruption.

Flows is written and directed Klaus Thymann and the story is told by key players in the conservation and protection of the Mexican coast. Music by Thom Yorke.

Only trailer is viewable, the 52 min documentary is not online.

BJÖRN BORG PLAYS A GAME OF TENNIS ACROSS THE U.S. – MEXICO BORDER

JULY 11th, 2017

 

Swedish sportswear brand Björn Borg has orchestrated a tennis match on the U.S. – Mexican border with one player on each side of the border, half the tennis court on Mexican soil and the other half on US soil. Borg Open – Tennis across Borders – is an initiative intended to manifest an open world in which sport has the power to unite people.


The world of today is full of conflicts and rivalry that lead to frustration, causing people and nations to build walls between each other. But rivalry can also be something good. After all, a rival pushes you to perform better and often brings out the best of you.

 

So, why build walls, when we could get to know and learn from one another instead? That’s why Swedish sportswear brand Björn Borg has manifested a tennis match on the U.S. – Mexican border, at Tijuana River, where a game has been played between tennis players Mariano Argote (MX) and Peter Clemente (US).

 

Henrik Bunge, CEO of Björn Borg, said:
“Borg Open is our way to state that we, as a sportswear brand, believe in an open world. Unfortunately, the activity is not likely to make those people who promote raising walls change their opinion. But, with our heritage, we know that not only tennis nets, but sport in general, has the power to unite people. We hope to inspire people to reach out to their neighbours and do sport together instead of building walls.”

 

On average a tennis player swaps sides 13 times during a game. In this game, they weren’t allowed to. Borg Open – tennis across borders, is an initiative intended to encourage people to stop build walls and play a game of tennis instead.

The tennis match was played at Tijuana River, 32°32’29.93″N 117° 2’19.57”W.
Director of the video: Klaus Thymann

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Each summer just off the coast of Vava’u, Tonga, Humpback whales group in their tropical breeding grounds. I went to photograph these majestic animals for The New York Times Magazine.

It took me four days to get to Vava’u due to bad weather. This also made it difficult to spot the whales, with strong winds, big waves and swells stirring up the sea impairing visibility. Eventually I started spotting some of the infamous sea-life, including Spinner dolphins, Pilot whales and finally Humpbacks. There were several adult males alongside pregnant mothers and calves.

I was lucky to witness a heat run, which involved 8 males showing-off in front of a female. The males move fast often changing direction, breaching, blowing bubbles and slapping their tails on the surface. The best way to describe this is to imagine a snow-globe (with whales) being shaken.

I continued my journey to Fonuafo`ou, an uninhabited island approximately 90km north of Tongatapu (mainland Tonga). I camped on the remote island overnight in solitude, I was completely removed from everything.

The island is a haven for birds that live in the small central thicket, which is surrounded only by a few metres of sandy beach. The shallows that encompass the island lead into a reef full of fish, including reef sharks.

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Exploring the Hidden Caves of Mexico

The Yutacan Peninsula in Mexico has one of the highest concentrations of cenotes, a sinkhole that leads to an underwater cave system, in the world. One such system was only discovered in late 2015 and I was able to join the two divers, Luis Leal and Alessandro Reato, who were mapping the system.

This new system, Mul Tun, had never been explored before. The hidden cave-like entrance to the cenote is an hour and a half trek into the jungle. Its discovery was made when a local Mayan was walking through the jungle and heard the calls of a Motmot bird. Known to nest in caves the bird lead him to the cave opening of Mul Tun.

At the entrance we checked our equipment, crawled down a slope into a shallow pool, swam through a small gap and the whole system opened up.

There was no natural light and the caves are between three and seven metres wide. As we swam through the passages we had to ensure we didn’t hit the stalactites that have taken centuries to form or to disturb the fine sediment on the cave floor – there’s very little current, or flow, in the caves and if you ‘silt-up’ you’re swimming blind and it can take a day to clear. Smaller gaps meant we had to unclip our air tanks, which are mounted on our sides rather than on our backs for better manoeuvrability, and push them through in front of us.

Alessandro was mapping the cave using lines; this not only marked the discovery but also our route back. You must never lose sight of the line as it ensures that you don’t get lost and can find your way out if your visibility is compromised.

Naturally there’s a particular intensity when cave diving that you don’t get when diving open water, and there’s definitely an adrenaline rush when you go into somewhere that hasn’t been explored before. After a while you begin to flow in sync with one another and you can really take in your surroundings. It is an incredible feeling to squeeze through a small passage to find a cave open up before you and I am always struck by the beauty of the cave – the stalactites, the water so clear and so still that the fine dust on the ceiling disturbed by the bubbles from your regulator drift down like snowflakes.

There are not many places in the world that haven’t been explored. Though exploration today is still about achieving incredible feats and surviving extreme environments, it often involves following in the footsteps of others. Yet these cave systems are still being discovered. It’s an incredibly special experience to be floating through these spaces that you know have not been seen for thousands of years, where you can stumble upon the remains of ancient campfires from before the caves flooded.

This is an adaption of ‘Exploring The Hidden Caves of Mexico’ (Avaunt, Issue 4, October 2016)

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This is a visual story about how dinosaurs, Chinese heavy industry and Egyptian children all have fun together in a tax-free zone by the Suez channel.

TEDA is a major Chinese company, you may know it, but in case you don’t then they have about $40 billion in assets and $11 billion in annual turnover. They trade heavily in Africa and have set up factories in the Suez Special Economic Zone (SEZONE) in Egypt.

Getting interest for other companies to set up factories in the middle of nowhere is a challenge and the existing plants had difficulty to get Egyptian workers to run the 24-hour shifts they do in China – this is where the fun starts.

The Chinese state owned company TEDA has started winning hearts and minds of Egypt’s workers and children, and this seems to be the relatively strange logic they have to set up not one, but four theme parks inside the SEZONE under the name TEDA Fun Valley. The zone is right by the Suez Canal and about an hour and a half away from Cairo. There is Dinosaur World, Candy World, Water World, Automotive World and also (unsurprisingly) an Egyptian restaurant, as well as a Chinese restaurant, Bank, swimming pool, basketball court and more.

The backstory behind this is interesting as the driving force is economics, but not economics in the sense that revenue from the theme parks is the focus. Fun Valley is a story about China’s involvement in Africa and how they are doing their own “winning hearts and minds” projects. Images of dinosaurs, Egyptian families and general theme-park oddness, are juxtaposed against the financial reality of Chinese soft propaganda.

In the corporate material from TEDA they list the reason behind this in their report as building smiles on Egyptian children in order to generate a prosperous future or as it is put like this;

“A happy childhood lays a happy life, happy children will foster a happy society. TEDA Fun Valley cares the happy growth of Egyptian children, and is committed to sow happy seeds in their pure hearts with the expectation of extending the happiness to the future and injecting a happy force to the civilized country. Producing happiness, and passing laughter; happy kids, happy Egypt!”


Go Inside China’s Bizarre Theme Park in the Egyptian Desert (Wired, Oct 2016)
by Charley Locke

OUT IN THE desert beyond Cairo, where sand stretches to the horizon and oil refineries dot the landscape, Hello Kitty schmoozes with a sharpshooter and a penguin. Imperial stormtroopers guard a bank next to the waterslides. And tourists in bumper cars gleefully attack each other with lasers.

The bizarre pop-cultural mashup brings Western entertainment to Egypt by way of China, which financed the construction of four theme parks in the Ain Sokhna desert. “It was a very strange showcase of special interests exerting themselves,” says Klaus Thymann. “I couldn’t work out if it is incredibly clumsy or really clever.”

Either way, Fun Valley is surreal. When Thymann read about the place online, he hightailed it there for a visit in May while on assignment in Cairo.

China built the theme park to entertain the families of those working in the Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone. It turns out folks aren’t too eager to work in the desert if there isn’t much to do, so the state-owned company TEDA broke ground on Fun Valley in April 2015. The company plowed $5.6 million into the project.

Each of the four parks is the size of a football field. Kids ride robotic dinosaurs through the Jurassic landscape of Dinosaur Park. Women in burkinis enjoy the waterslides of Water World. Candy World is “like Cloud Cuckoo Land from The Lego Movie,” Thymann says, and families get behind the wheel of bumper cars to drive across five continents in a riff on Disneylands’ classic Autopia attraction. “It looks like if you did a Google search on popular kids entertainment and mixed it together,” says Thymann. “It’s quite a bizarre compilation.”

The most striking thing about the theme park is how it combines kitsch with Chinese propaganda to, in the words of the company that built it, “inject a happy force” into Egypt. A happy force, and a bit of absurdity.

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Advertising for Nokia. Completed in New York, Shanghai and Barcelona, in 2009.

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Advertising for Levi’s. Shot in Shanghai and Sao Paolo, 2006.