RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2015

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56 Waterworlds Art Programme - Film Screening (1)
Convenor(s) Veronica Vickery (University of Exeter, UK)
Timetable Wednesday 02 September 2015, Plenary & lunch (13:10 - 14:25)
Room Newman Building - Lecture Theatre F (Red)
Session abstract The film screening will feature a series of short artist films relating to the materially processual and eventful nature of water-worlds, human patterns of living with and the political imperatives encapsulated within these complex geo-physical circulations and ever re-forming environments. Taking place over lunch on Wednesday and Friday in the Peter Chalk building, please feel free to come and go.

Linked Sessions Waterworlds Arts Programme - Exhibition
Water-worlds: Arts Performance by PIDGE
Wet Geographies III (1): Water-worlds – art practices and wet ecologies
Wet Geographies III (2): Water-worlds – Wet Geographies Panel Discussion
Waterworlds Art Programme - Film Screening (2)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2015@rgs.org
Sea (2011)
Gareth Polmeer (Royal College of Art, UK)
Liquidity and the iterations of measured time have been central preoccupations for many filmmakers. In the terms of this screening, the way in which transient phenomena appear in the time-based image has variously expressed ‘the materially processual and eventful nature of water-worlds’. Such considerations have developed in some of my own landscape videos, where the processual flow of the progressive video scan develops images of natural phenomena towards stasis in flux. Explorations of the constituent elements of the image shift representation between abstraction and figuration, embodying vision into the sense of landscape. In the work screened here images of sky and sea on the horizon form linear bands of colour through the spatial and temporal composition of scan lines. The video is composed of multiple instances of the same recordings. These have been layered and masked in different configurations with areas one pixel in height, each offset by varying iterations of 1/25th of a second from the next. These layers are duplicated, inversed and reversed such that the images develop through one another, with the textures a series of colour fields. Monochrome blocks of colour sampled from the recordings foreground and flatten depths. Separate planes and temporal reorganisation bring the movements into relations with colour and form.

Duration: 3 minutes, 40 seconds
That Oceanic Feeling: Ama (2012)
Rona Lee (Northumbria University, UK)
That Oceanic Feeling is the collective title of a body of artworks, arising from research into systems of oceanographic survey and deep-sea mapping, undertaken as Leverhulme Trust Artist in Residence at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton.

The combined effects of refraction, lack of light and increased atmospheric pressure, make optical and ground survey of undersea environments extremely difficult necessitating that they be mapped with sonar. This acoustic data is then reprocessed to create computer-generated models, artificially lit, drained of water and coloured so as to enhance their legibility.

Such representational practices can be said to form part of both the post enlightenment drive to render the world as observable phenomena and a continuum which has seen the Sea consigned to a position of meaningless materiality - Barthes’ non signifying field – no where no thing to - a surface to be traversed or volume to be plumbed (reflecting a wider scientific and philosophical difficulty in dealing with the fluid).

This research explores the capacity of artworks / art making to:
Facilitate reflection on the character and meaning of geophysical representations Support methods of conceptualizing the natural world that recognize the agency of matter and contribute to a ‘non¬hu¬man’ turn in con¬tem¬porary thought
Generate new ontologies of the fluid.

Duration: 10 minutes
Karen Kramer (Independent Artist)
Limulus is a film installation and speculative fiction about the encounter between a piece of ocean debris (a deflated mylar balloon), a horseshoe crab and a 1974 Seeburg ‘Olympian’ jukebox. It addresses two kinds of obsolescence – one, a redundant music machine, the other the once indispensable horseshoe crab whose extinction by over-fishing has been stayed so it’s blood can be harvested for a clotting agent with widespread pharmaceutical use. With synthetic alternatives available the horseshoe crab’s protection is at risk but the contrasting timescales of the two – one machine made history in decades, the other under threat after 450 million years on this earth – gives pause for thought; both about our relationship with the non-human and of our own finitude as a species.

Further to addressing the act of storytelling and formal categories like the allegory or the fable, Limulus, reflects pressing ecological realities and the way that conceptions of the ‘natural world,’ elemental force and deep time are affected by them. Focusing on oceanic life and the demands on it of human industries, it highlights the interface between scientific fact and mythic fiction in human understanding of the world. This is especially prescient where the sea is concerned as it’s perils (uninhabitable, unpredictable, frighteningly vast it is an eternal menace) and importance as a fundamental condition of all life and much surplus activity on dry land make it one of the ageless subjects of imaginary narrative.

A note on sound: The narrator’s voice was made possible by the Cornell Ornithology Laboratory who provided vocalization of 15 different animals, which were spliced together to make a "voice".

Karen Kramer is a New York born, London based multi-disciplinary artist. She studied at Parsons School of Design, New York and Goldsmiths University of London, and worked for a number of years at a marine mammal research centre in Massachusetts. She has exhibited work in the UK, Europe and Japan. www.karenkramer.eu

Duration: 11 minutes, 43 seconds
RGS/AC OA formerly Ocean Apocalypse (2015)
Michael Mulvihill (Independent Artist)
I will present a work in progress for an installation that I am developing with the South Shields Marine School (SSMS), Berwick Visual Arts, the Northern Peripheries Research Group and the Paper Studio Northumbria both based at Northumbria University, and supported through the Arts Council England Grants for the Arts. The work draws upon a fantastic vision of a thousand vessels cast into a foul storm and a tumultuous sea. This image has been evoked through a series of visits to the ship simulator units at SSMS that will be used to generate a tempest incorporating virtual vessels from SSMS database of commercial shipping. This proposed session will contribute to the development of the artwork and installation and will take the form of a digital file that can be displayed through video projection. It will provoke the question of how the forces of nature impact upon our geopolitically constructed world, and will refer to nineteenth century shipwreck paintings as well as contemporary representations of ocean catastrophes to develop a geopolitical vision of the sublime.

I am an Artist that investigates the interaction between personal experience and wider geopolitical narratives, predominantly the politics of nuclear war. I am currently Leverhulme Artist in Residence in the Military War and Strategy Research Group in the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology at Newcastle University, and have had a recent solo show the Means and the Instruments, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art Sunderland (2015). I am represented by Vane Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. www.mchlmulvihill.tumblr.com

Duration 2 minutes, 55 seconds
Dropped in the Ocean (2014)
Jess Allen (Independent Artist)
Dropped in the Ocean is a transnational, split-screen film that marks the culmination of a two-month process of exchange – of fresh and salt water, writing, audio recordings and movement footage – between two ecological performers (Wales/Canada). Inspired by our curiosity about water as substance, metaphor and medium – a medium of vital ecological process; a medium of communication to raise ecological consciousness; a medium of connection across continents and between selves and site – this process was an attempt to engage with and enliven a three-dimensional ethical and ecological consciousness about water through two-dimensional film. How might trans-continental creative collaborations help elucidate experiential understandings of the significance and situation of our current aquatic climate? The film simultaneously asks and responds to the conundrum of how we communicate across (ethical and geographical) distances: that of time and space, that which exists between our awareness of global crisis and our local everyday behaviours, the split between our humanity and our ecology. How do we collaboratively, creatively negotiate the chasm between the scale of what we need to do and what we are not doing?

Jess Allen is a dancer and walking artist, currently doing a (second) PhD in walking in rural landscapes as an eco-activist arts practice. Bronwyn Preece is an improvisational performer, community applied theatre practitioner and the pioneer of earthBODYment currently doing a PhD in the embodiment of ecology and disability. Two minute trailer: www.vimeo.com/116007241

Duration 10:10 minutes
Alchemical Waters (2013)
Ruth Le Gear (Independent Artist)
Le Gear’s practice involves an engagement and meditations with the landscape, making visible the invisible by creating a tangible response to forces that are not immediately apparent. Utilising the methodologies of homeopathy, she unravels shared experience through water. This work is emerging from the outcomes of research, collaboration and fieldwork based around water memory. Her process involves serial dilutions, which form tiny poetic time machines where each sample is explored to see what is held within. Alchemical Waters is a video piece in which a remedy from the melt waters of an iceberg was created in the Arctic and then returned to the sea. The work engages with the subtle earth energies that ebb and flow through the landscape, creating a relationship with the spirit and place.

Le Gear (b.1985) graduated from Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (IE) with a degree in sculpture in 2007. Residencies include CCA Laznia (2014), Leitrim Sculpture Centre (2013), Arctic Circle (2012), Berlin (Culturia 2012), Fire Station Artists’ Studios(2011) Iceland (SIM, 2012/09) Cill Rialig, ( 2011) Tyrone Guthrie (2010) and Limerick City Gallery of Art (2008). Exhibitions include a solo show Polar Forces: universe of an iceberg in LSC (2013) and Cork Film Centre (2013), Water that Sleeps, Galway Arts Centre (2009) and group exhibitions in Ev+a (2008), Claremorris Open (2008) and Millennium Court Arts Centre (2012).

Duration 12:12 minutes
The Free Sea (2014)
Hanna Husberg (Independent Artist)
Laura McLean (Independent Artist)
The disappearance of the Maldives beneath the sea is a speculative hypothesis, though a likely and compelling one. The Free Sea is an essay film developed as part of the Contingent Movements Archive, a web platform and symposium conceived for the Maldives Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale that speculates on the contingent circumstances Maldivians may face as a permanently displaced population.

The Free Sea explores the Maldives as a state constituted and unbound by the cultural, political, economic, and material flows of late capitalism and anthropogenic climate change. Considering the impacts of sea level rise on the low-lying island nation, the film reflects on these islands as geo-bodies of identity, sovereignty, and prosperity threatened by the breaching of coastal and climatic thresholds. The forecast dissolution of these islands represents an ontological loss of definition, and crisis of representation for objects and subjects, registering across local and global scales and systems of knowledge. As plans are proposed for the future resettlement of a diaspora without homeland, The Free Sea traces consequences of this crisis, considering potential positions for new human beings subject to a complex of technological and legal systems, but afforded rights by none.

Hanna Husberg, artist, based in Stockholm, graduated from ENSBA, Paris and currently a Phd in Practice candidate at the arts academy of Vienna, and Laura McLean, artist/curator, based in London, graduated from Sydney College of Arts and Goldsmiths College, employ artistic and curatorial practices to enquire into the ontological and geo-political repercussions of the Anthropocene era.

Duration 25 minutes