Mountains of Kong appeared on the finest maps of the world
for over a hundred years. First “discovered” by Scottish explorer
Mungo Park in 1798, they ran from Guinea in West Africa and
continued eastwards connecting to the (also fictitious) Mountains
of the Moon. During the following hundred years explorers returned
with wild tales of an impassible mountain range, “pink, snow
capped, flowing with gold” and teeming with strange exotic animals.
Finally, in 1889, French explorer Louis Binger returned from his
expedition and burst the bubble: they simply did not exist.
Breathing fresh life into the myth, artist Jim Naughten has
created a 3D photobook, in collaboration with Hoop Design and
Editions, to document an imaginary expedition to the phantom
Mountains of Kong. Alongside insightful essays, some 35
stereoscopic images chart the mountain range’s flora and fauna, and
can be enjoyed in 3D using an in-built viewer.
Naughten made these stereoscopic images – a technique popular in
the mid-1800s – in the
Scottish and Welsh mountains, as well as in some fantastic
natural history museums around the world. Colours were incorporated
to enhance the mythical nature, and aquatic and non-African animals
were added to the menagerie.
At once engaging and playful, the book serves as a commentary on
the mutability of fact: if the past appears to be in a constant
state of flux, what does our future hold?