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Haunting 3D Video Shows Island At Center Of Refugee Crisis

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 18/03/2016 Willa Frej
REFUGEE CRISIS LESBOS © Embassy for the Displaced REFUGEE CRISIS LESBOS

A design collective and a 3D imaging studio have teamed up to show Lesbos, the Greek island now known for being a staging ground in the refugee crisis, like it's never been seen before.

"Where Land Meets Sea" was shot in January and explores the parts of the island that are most pivotal to refugees' experiences. 

The haunting 3D video highlights the island's crucial role as a stop on a long migratory journey into Europe. Discarded life vests -- left behind by the hundreds of thousands of people who have passed through Lesbos on their way to Greece's mainland and then westward into the European Union -- are now a part of the island's landscape.

"The rugged, mountainous landscape of the north is perforated by synthetic piles of survival, ones that challenge its legitimacy over the land," reads a description of the video on Embassy for the Displaced's Facebook page. Embassy for the Displaced is a design-based collective that aims to visually archive the refugee journey and that was involved in producing the video.

An average of 2,000 people arrive on Lesbos each day, the United Nations' refugee agency, UNHCR, told The WorldPost. The island has about 6,000 places, including camps and centers, where refugees can find shelter. 

The island's changing demographics are also shown in this visual representation. Aside from refugees, swarms of volunteers and aid workers --like the rescuers preparing to head out to sea in the clip above -- now inhabit the island.

The project started out as Embassy for the Displaced co-founder Stefanos Levidis' master's thesis at University College London. The art collective later partnered with 3D scanning studio ScanLAB Projects to finish the project.

"Being Greek, we witnessed the exodus that followed first hand, rendering the Greek islands an informal 'gate to Europe,'" Levidis and the collective's co-founder, Sofia Georgovassili, wrote in an email. 

They figured that 3D imaging would be a powerful and unique way to inform people about a place that most have only seen in pictures and videos.

"We are always looking for new ways of representation and cartography, how to best map and portray the crisis that is unfolding in the island of [Lesbos]," they wrote.

ScanLAB Projects often works with architects and artists but never had completed a project like this before. Co-founder William Trossell said the studio had worked on projects with similar design, "but this is the first time it's got more of a humanitarian angle."

Embassy for the Displaced's next project: making waterproof backpacks out of recycled rubber dinghies and life vests found on Lesbos that they can distribute to refugees.

"The boats the smugglers pack the refugees in are unsafe for the crossing, while most life vests are fake, but their poor quality makes for perfect material for backpacks," the group's co-founders wrote.

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