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.
Twice a day, the Thames rises many metres to fill secret, enclosed spaces in central London.
Cameras and stereo microphones, held under wharves, jetties and office-blocks, recorded four distinct audio films. Starting slowly, the water rises inexorably to take and drown each camera in the confined space of its man-made, built environment; stereo sounds of traffic, birds, humans and boat-wash are replaced by burbling inundation and the buzz of propellers. The films are not ‘in synch’; the chaos of their rhythms means nobody walks into the same exhibition twice…
‘Allied to the bottom of the river rather than the surface, by reason of the slime and ooze with which it was covered, and its sodden state, this boat and the two figures in it obviously were doing something that they often did, and were seeking what they often sought.
But, it happened now, that a slant of light from the setting sun glanced into the bottom of the boat, and, touching a rotten stain there which bore some resemblance to the outline of a muffled human form, coloured it as though with diluted blood.’ Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend
In 2006 this exhibition of 2.5 metre wide panoramic images was exhibited at the Museum of London in Docklands with a soundtrack by Susi Arnott. While making the work I was thinking as much about Dickens, Melville and Poe as about climate change but as rising sea levels have become a more urgent concern the images have gathered a renewed interest. Panos Pictures are currently running the work as one of their stories: http://www.panos.co.uk/stories/2-13-1494-1988/Crispin-Hughes/Unquiet-Thames/