SPILLBANK // in the Gulf of Mexico post oil spill
On board the Lumcon Pelican in the Gulf of Mexico last December 2010. The scientific mission of the voyage is to assess deep sea and shallow sea biodiversity impacts following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of spring/summer 2010. In this project, I am collaborating with Dr Suzanne Fredericq, a leading algae specialist at University of Louisiana- Lafayette.
The intent of this art research practice is to engage new ways of mapping and illuminating the presences of the ‘unseen’ marine biosphere. I feel that it is extremely important to give audiences an emotional as well as intellectual pathway into the visualization of a world our lives depend on. The affective resonances of fields of interpretive biomorphic drawing are spaces where color and line can take on presences that evoke the richness of these life worlds. I feel that the sea algae and marine creatures i observed in the Gulf are like the writing in the water. They move like calligraphy through the ‘pages’ of benthic and pelagic (deep and mid ocean) layers. They are the products and the carriers of the light live by. I want to illuminate their photosynthetic processes in a way that displaces traditional biologic visualization into a new register.
SPILLBANK is an ambient multiscreen expanded cinema project based on documentary footage during six days at sea in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil spill – told through the montage of meshed actions–scientists, crew and marine life in a single, radical ‘commons’.
As an installation, the possibility exists for a three channel video installation cut from the footage shot on board the Pelican in several shoots, plus footage from remote fibreoptic cameras. The three channels of video can be linked electronically so that latency is built into the time structures of each film. The visual effect is shimmering and diaphanous– the sea life photography is made to move in ‘liquid’ like waves and chop using delays. The set up requires either 3 LCD monitors or three large screens– it can be set up (best) in a dark room with the large projections… if the option to link the screens electronically is preferred, the projections will require mac computers (laptops or minimacs are fine)- to run my ‘latency structures’ software.
The ocean footage from the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon / BP oil spill is very rare and special. I was the only artist on the research vessel involving 7 biologists and 7 crew. I was able to shoot footage of marine animals from over 1200 meters in depth– and also to document the field work as it happened at all hours of the day and night. The video footage is dramatic on a human level as well as rich in ambient phenomena. For audiences it will be a rare look into the post-spill marine conditions. I hope that the narrative oblique poetics of abstraction in the ‘scape’ of the film space will open up new sites of feeling and action…
My film practice concerns new ways of visualizing the hyperobjective conditions of global warming and rising marine levels. I am especially interested in traumatic visualization- i cast geophysical, climatological and marine science data visualizations into empirically gathered site inforrmation– casting topologies.
HD video in single or more channels
SPILLBANK explores marine biology field research around deep sea and shallow bank marine animals and algae after the BP oil spill / Deepwater Horizon of summer 2010. The montage abstraction is designed to find affinities of movement and gesture between the observed field biologists and their own observed species-- layer upon layer of gesture creates a hieroglyphic and hyperbolic nest of readings over time inside the ocean. The abstraction makes possible readings of scientific work in commons with ocean life develops a rhythm of differentiation and serpentine occlusion---between species and among ourselves, at the very moment of parsing the most delicate differences, the signs of post spill change....