Modern Hellespont

Modern Hellespont - video  Video
Modern Hellespont - video

This footage was shot at the Ideal Home exhibition and then re-edited. I am still fascinated by the endless character of the swimmer's endeavour, something that connects to some of my earlier performance works exploring the nature of tasks, often domestic in character, which of necessity must be repeated time and time again.

The other aspect of this piece by which I am preoccupied is the design of the pool itself - shaped to enhance the artificially generated current against which the swimmer is pitted, it has a geological dimension to it and has I think subliminally influenced both the work I am now doing with sea bed mapping and also the architectural models that form part of the submersion series.

The approach of the crowd to the edge of the tank, conjurers up the image of a 19th century fairground attraction, featuring the 'maiden in the tank', or something similar.

Hellespont is the former name of the Dardanelles, the strait of water that separates Europe from Asia. Legend has it that Leander would swim across nightly to meet with his beloved Hero who would light a lamp at the top of her tower to guide his way. One night the wind blew out Hero's light and Leander was drowned. Hero threw herself from the tower in grief and died as well. The poet, Lord Byron became the first known person to swim the Hellespont in 1810.


Tair Lair: Images

s[H]elf II

s[H]elf II
Residency and Exhibition: La Chambre Blanche, Quebec City, Canda. 1999

Reasoning Backwards

Reasoning Backwards
Exhibited: Dartington Arts Devon 2000

Google earth goes underwater

Goggle Earth Goes underwater

This week amid a flurry of media coverage Goggle Earth issues an update, which allows viewers to navigate the deep-sea bed.

My own attempts - clumsy no doubt - to use this facility afford the exhilarating experience - and it is strangely physical  - of crashing down towards and through the sea’s surface into an environment which is strangely reminiscent of some of the undersea scapes I have been producing using the Erdas modelling software

What is strikes me most forcibly is level of visibility it assumes. In parallel I am editing some video footage shot at a depth of between 2,500 to 3,000 metres which makes evident the difficulty of seeing anything beyond that which might be illuminated by the beam of a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) (an area of approx 9-16 sq metres). No horizon is visible confounding immediately one of the primary pictorial conventions of landscape. The other surprise perhaps is the constant stream of snow like debris that falls  through the water to rest on the bottom and which as soon as it is touched swirls up dramatically, obscuring the view. For me this powerfully evokes the depth involved while for the scientists I am working with it is a source of extreme frustration .

I remember when I was producing work in response to the site of a wrecked boat at Prawle Point  in Devon, putting the camera (see Above and Below this page) in waterproof a housing and allowing the tide to animate the camera as a means to embed within the work a trace of the circumstances in which it was made. By the same token this dark, awkward, footage excites me because of the echo it offers of the physical the space of the deep sea bed and the resitance it offers  to  the attemtp of the camera to reveal it.

Sitting in the video archive at National Oceanography Centre watching this footage I am awed by the hours and hours of tape held there, all of which must be painstakingly logged. I read the entries which record sightings of a purple anemone, small sponge, vase bug etc In this world, which is so vast and lacking in familiar landmarks a mussel shell serves as an provides an important point of orientation

Returning to Goggle Underwater I find myself thinking about the virtual world it conjures and the ways in which this in turn shapes our perception of the actual world. I can’t help feeling that despite the wealth of data on which it draws, Goggle Underwater represents a making of the world in our image, which is as much scenic as it is scientific.

Video shot at a depth of  2,500 - 3, 000 metres  Video
Video shot at a depth of 2,500 - 3, 000 metres
Google Earth Ocean floor
Google Earth Ocean floor
Footage shot with remotely operated vehicle - mid atlantic 3,000.00 metres  Video
Footage shot with remotely operated vehicle - mid atlantic 3,000.00 metres