The Voyagers, a documentary, Beta SP, 59:00. Now available for US and international broadcast.

Life is an elaborate, overlapping series of structures: work, family, sports, government, religion, etc.  Each of these provides and limits the space in which we conduct the frequently banal business of living.  What happens when you examine these constructs?  By stripping down the repetition of daily life are we able to examine what it might mean to be alive?  Semi-extreme performance artist Ward Shelley has built an artificial construct: a platform designed to "walk" by means of detaching the rear and reaffixing it to the front.  By his own admission, it is a ridiculous proposition, this weeklong journey to cross a park that takes all of five minutes to cover by foot.  However, during the course of the trip, the ridiculous gains significance.

The Voyagers follows Ward Shelley and his two "crewmates," Bill Kaizen, a grad student at Columbia, and Ole Olaussen, a Norwegian mountain climber/mason, from the weeks leading up to their week long "trip" and on through to its aftermath. Shelley likens his crew to characters in a comic book; each character has his own specific strength--speed, intelligence, agility, and so on--and together their disparate talents complete the team.

Ward, Bill and Ole quickly realize their endeavor will demand more time and physical effort than they had envisioned. Even as they become more adept at their tasks, they face arduous days just to maintain their schedule. Soon, friction develops between the crewmates. Laboring and surviving together each day aboard the platform creates camaraderie and teamwork; on the other hand, they realize they were disillusioned in the belief that the undertaking would be fun.

Still, getting off the platform at the trip's end is bittersweet. For one week the project gave their lives purpose. As Ole explains, "We solved...’Who am I? Where am I going?’ This is a frequent question placed in my mind. We were the Voyagers and we were going to the other side of that park."

"We magnified each step across the park," Bill recalls,"and in doing so we've realized how important it is to get from one place to another, rather than to be at one place or another."

Home Page