Indexicality

Tair Lair: Images

Ballast

Ballast
Commissioned: Now 96. Exhibited: Bonnington Gallery, Nottingham 1996

s[H]elf I

s[H]elf I
Commissioned: Performulate. Exhibited: Cambridge Darkroom 1998

s[H]elf II

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

Hidden Seas/ Surface Waters

  • Video
Hidden Seas/ Surface Waters
Performance for camera, 1999 - Duration 11 minutes

Drawing on family experience of physical disability Hidden Seas / Surface Waters attempted to articulate a body of difference, whose boundaries remain physiologically and psychologically fluid, inverting the characteristic function of light as a source of 'illumination'.

The use of silhouettes within the work references the 18th century physiognomic experiments of James Lavater, who attempted to read from the profile of his sitters their moral and spiritual 'nature'.

Supported by a London Arts Board - London Hybrids Research and Development Award.

Production support Irish Museum of Modern Art and Arthouse, Dublin.
Residency and screening: Irish Musueum of Modern Art, Dublin. 1999
Exhibited, Spacex, Exeter. 2003

Forensic

Forensic
Exhibited: Museum of Installation, London. 2000

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

3D vision 2

Took the 3d samples down to Southampton today and everybody was very interested in them. Surprisingly it took some people a while to understand what they were looking at and even longer for them to work out that one of the prints inverts the height and depth of the seabed.

I think, and Tim agrees, that of the two the most successful is the one in which the seabed is raised up and the land dropped down, Sardinia and Corsica becoming holes

The next question is how to resolve the status of the work conceptually, especially given how aesthetically compelling the prints are. There are a number of possibilities including the idea of isolating those parts of the seabed which are currently subject to territorial claims under the United Nations Law of the Sea ratification process, the first part of which is to be finalised in May.

I am also interested in tracing the divisions of the seas as agreed in the 1950s

Either way more tests and the creation of different modelling formula will be needed I think.

3D print
3D print

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

A series of works in progress, generated at the National Oceanography Centre, as Leverhulme Artist in Residence, exhibited as part of a group show on Mapping at Howard Gardens Gallery, University of Wales Institute. 

Each marks an attempt to engage with processes of representing the undersea world while providing a counterpoint to the virtual and optical emphasis of scientific methods. Seeking ways of 'knowing', centred upon the imagination, desire, the body and touch, capable of resisting the separation of subject and object demanded by the use of observation as a way of encountering the world.

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.