Underwater Boyles

I have been thinking about the possiblity of working with the undersea locations that formed part of the Boyle Family's journey to the surface of the earth 'random locations' project.

In 1964 they invited members of the public to throw a dart into a map of the world, while blindfolded, thus generating a 1000 different locations, which became in turn the basis of the World Series, an ongoing project, which involves the making of a three-dimensional cast of an area of each site.

As far as I am aware they have yet to tackle those which resulted from darts that fell into the sea.

In one sense my interest in their work echoes the random basis of the original selection, offering a means to select undersea locations from the infinite number available. At the same time the concepts behind their enquiry resonate with my own interest in questions of objectivity, truth and knowledge.

“They attempt to present a slice of reality as they found it at the moment of selection. And yet, so much is left out. The world is not a fixed and permanent place. There are an infinite number of elements and factors that are constantly changing. No matter how good the recreation, it is still a recreation and only an approximation to reality. They know that it is impossible to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But they try to isolate and reduce the elements to see if it is possible to tell the truth about anything.”


Exhibited: Museum of Installation, London. 2000

MAPPING exhibition  (Nov 13th - Dec 11th 09): Text

A New Set of Borders for the Kingdom uses geological and political data (deploying the same modelling programmes as the oceanographers I am working with) to reveal the underwater borders of the UK, while refering also to the current territorial undersea expansion of many nation states. For my scientific colleagues this kind of 3D dimensional map, which differs significantly from the 2d and screen based representations with which they are familiar, has prompted a new awareness of the different ways in which the movement of water and air determine topography.

By contrast to dive, to fall, to float, to fly while reminiscent of corporeal and geological forms has no actual geographic referent. Shaped by the tug of gravity, it conjures a space that pulls similarly at our imagination, both drawing and threatening.

Composed of 10,923.00 metres of string, enough to reach the bottom of the deepest surveyed point on Earth, Challenger Deep, A sailor went to sea, sea, sea, to see what he could see, see, see and all that he could see, see, see, was the bottom of the deep blue sea, sea, sea functions as another kind of index, offering a measure of both the distance involved and a trace of the near 2100,00 circuits of the space I walked while laying it out.

Similarly each of the 10-plaster reliefs that make up Ten Atlantic Days, the outlines of which were generated by a pen, hung by a thread from the table of my cabin aboard the RRS James Cook, offer a record of the motion of the sea over an 8-hour period on ten different days. Inspired in part by William Moon's embossed maps for the blind, they operate as kind of fingerprint making the otherwise invisible, tangible.

A freeze frame of a different sort is provided by the process of firing two handfuls of silt, collected from 4,000.00 metres below sea level in Whittard Canyon, a deep submarine canyon off the coast of Ireland, making the insubstantial solid. I want, I want, I want suggests the possibility of reaching down into the depths and grasping what lies below, giving a lie to the difficulty which accompanies the actual processes of retrieving such material. Its earthy materiality striking a sharp contrast with 11"21' North, 142" 12' East - Mariana Trench Abstraction a computer generated model, in which scientific data is manipulated so as to allow an impossible viewpoint in, around and through, the deepest place on earth.

Finally A long slow walk of 20,000 leagues fancifully charts a walk along the route of Jules Verne's Nautilus submarine, from the Pacific, through the Mediterranean, under Antarctica, to its demise in a whirlpool off the coast of Norway. A journey, the playful idiosyncrasy of which, offers a wry perspective on attempts to 'know' the deep sea.