Beneath Dark House Walk in central London, a plastic duck is locked in a time-lapse selfie. On the rising tide, they’re lifted by the Thames and generate visual and audio readouts as they experience the river. Is that a fixed grin, or a Kuleshov experiment?
Meanwhile, a fixed observer watches them from above. And listens. And makes its own recordings. Frames of reference, timescales and data visualisation are juxtaposed in this composite film that plays with place, perception and point of view.
Originating from our work on tides with data scientist Prof. Sophia Olhede, this film combines the human compulsion to anthropomorphise with a random aesthetic and the plot of a picaresque novel. ‘She dreamed she was delivered of a tennis-ball, which the devil (who, to her great surprise, acted the part of a midwife) struck so forcibly with a racket that it disappeared in an instant; and she was for some time inconsolable for the lost of her offspring; when, all on a sudden, she beheld it return with equal violence, and enter the earth, beneath her feet’. From p.1 of ‘Roderick Random’ by Tobias Smollett, pub.1748.
Bobby and Stillman, our collaboration with mathematicians from UCL’s Big Data Institute is getting a long run at the UCL Science Library.
UCL Science Library, Malet Place, London WC1E 6BT 020 7679 7795
Monday to Friday 09:30 – 20:45, Saturdays 11:00 – 17:45
July 27th. – September 22nd. 2017
Susi and/or Crispin will be in the gallery on July 28th August 1st&2nd, 9th&10th, 19th, 23rd, 30th September 4th, 22nd.
Digital recordings are data, as well as pictures & sounds… UCL Science Library is screening immersive art; the tides in central London as subject matter for a series of films playing with time, space, sampling and perception. A collaboration between a film-maker, a photographer, and mathematicians from UCL’s Big Data Institute, using Eulerian & Lagrangian approaches to fluid dynamics – and touching on the uncertainty principle.
A new tidal collaboration with Dr Susi Arnott. This time we’re working with Prof. Sofia Olhede as part of UCL’s Creative Reactions science-art project.
Two time-lapse cameras (Bobby and Stillman), each accompanied by a stereo sound recorder, eye each-other as the tide rises around them close to London Bridge. Together they create a dialogue between a fixed vantage point and an erratic floating viewpoint.
Each camera shot 18,843 images during a 12-hour tidal cycle. One photo was taken every two seconds. The two attached sound recorders produced a total of almost 20 hours of continuous audio. All this constituted our ‘data’.
Many art-science projects assume that the artists will produce a subjective ‘creative’ response to the scientists’ objective research. There is an assumption here that scientific work is not creative, or interpretative. We hope to upend this, or at least level the creative playing field. Both scientific statistician Prof. Olhede and ourselves will find ways to respond to our data and present it in different ways.
Currently we have edited two synchronised 37 minute time-lapse films: one looking at the water, the other immersed in the water, each camera looking at the other. But how do we reconcile the sampling of the visual scene every two seconds by the cameras, with the continuous audio? Future posts will explore this issue.
Prof. Olhede is a statistical scientist; amongst other sources, she’s worked with oceanographers on data from ocean research buoys. She and her colleagues are working on a creative response, as scientists; and this is to our raw data, rather than to our completed time-lapse films.
Sunday 23rd October was Open Day at the Crossness Pumping Station. The ‘Thames Tides’ installation, created by Susi Arnott and I, screened throughout the day alongside the mighty beam engines. You can still catch the show this Friday 28th Oct. Details and photos below.
Crossness Pumping Station. Friday 28th Oct. 2016
Where? Crossness Pumping Station
The Old Works, Thames Water S.T.W. Bazalgette Way, Abbey Wood, London SE2 9AQ
When? Friday 28th Oct. Public guided tour from 10am-1pm. Booking is required for this – through Eventbrite on the Crossness website. Cost is £12 and includes tea and biscuits.
Parking available outside site on Bazalgette Way. Walkers/cyclists gain access via the pedestrian access pathway – at end of Bazalgette Way on left BEFORE thames water security gate.
From my own experiences, I’m aware of the intimacy and vulnerability in handing yourself over completely into the care of someone else.
Everyone remembers having a general anaesthetic. They won’t remember the operation; but they’re likely to tell their friends all about the process of slipping into unconsciousness. The anaesthetist is their guide and protector into and out of this netherworld. For the clinicians the process is routine, yet the anaesthetists and nurses I photographed were always aware of the importance of this moment to the patient. They used charm, humour, calmness, eye contact and a genuine interest in the patient to help them navigate what is at the very least a disorienting experience.
Consciousness is a tricky subject, debated by philosophers and scientists for hundreds of years. But anaesthetists turn it on and off and otherwise manipulate it every day. Photographing people losing consciousness is an odd thing. Like a benign and reversible death. One moment they’re there talking as I snap away and the next minute they’re absent, yet still the centre of attention. They are there and not there.
My commission for the Royal College of Anaesthetists took me to hospitals around the country to photograph all aspects of anaesthesia.
I’ll cover other aspects of this extraordinary profession in future posts.
Susi Arnott and I ran a photogram workshop for 250 people as part of an Elements evening at the Wellcome Collection. We turned a conference room into a huge darkroom where volunteer chemists explained silver’s role in analogue photography. Visitors could make images using what they had in their pockets, or had brought along especially, but the team brought objects along too.
Collaboration with film-maker Susi Arnott has included commissions for NGOs and participatory projects, as well as gallery work. ‘Comma’ is a film Susi made inspired by her work with Professor Andrea Sella of University College London, with whom I’m also working later this year. We hope to bring all three minds to bear on a joint project soon.