Below the Radar 2021
Below the Radar is an ‘on-the-point-of collapse’ event relying on the interconnectedness of its elements and viewers’ amended behaviour to exist and function. Viewers’ behaviour around this installation is altered: movements are visibly slower and more careful. Viewers take account of the fragility and precarity of this work and become more spatially and socially aware of their surroundings, themselves, and others.
Merleau-Ponty describes this as a reciprocal exchange of question and answer in which sensing takes place as the ‘co-existence’ or ‘communion’ of the body with the world.
The ephemeral material used in this work was gathered from fields in the marshy Witham valley, and the site of a prehistoric causeway, in the heart of Lincolnshire. The stalks were assembled and organised to generate the sense of a unified force moving forward through the vast space of a vast nave of a large church close to the banks of the River Trent. Their inferred migration engineered to reflect the marshland’s own self-organising solution to changes in water levels: a marsh can move itself across the surface of the earth in comprehensible timescales.
The random pattern of the stalks’ dry and dusty-mud taproots lightly touching, or almost touching the floor of the church generate the effect of a syncopated beat. The structure of these forms is elusive, and rhythmical deviations help to create a balance of predictability and surprise. This in turn helps to communicate the idea that this is a natural phenomenon. The forward flowing rhythm of the unique multiples of assembled stalks too, help to pull the viewer from east to west through the nave. (Directionally, the stalks and viewers are heading east from the River Trent to the safety of Hemswell Cliff).
Six short videos document share the story of this work
In LaserOver UnderTheRadar, a single red light of a builder’s laser level is used to help me pay closer attention to the unique properties of the ephemeral material. I love the way in which the red beam becomes disconnected and in doing so form, position, and distance in this space becomes more tightly anchored. The unknown and unfamiliar of these stalks is more readily revealed. In some way, this visual tactic supports my initial intention to engineer an encounter with the unfamiliar in our everyday and to generate a greater awareness of ourselves and our surroundings.
As sunlight floods in from this magnificent building’s windows the installation is transformed. The allusion to water in the reflections on the acrylic tiles point to the landscape that the stalks were gathered from and reveal something more about the nature of this site and space. I am again reminded that it is gravity that causes water to move and that the presence of it ‘passing’ is all around us.
The florescent glow of the yellow light which seeps over everything and everyone, without prejudice, bleeds into the very space itself. Alluding to the inescapable soaking properties of water, its ‘poisonous-yellow’ adds to the sense of a precarious land.
In this clip, I am using the church's large 4-wheeled mop-bucket as a dolly - the rumbling sound of the wheels is a perfect reminder of the dynamic properties and potential of marshland ecologies to adapt to its changing environment. I enjoyed the unplanned provenance of the mop-bucket itself. This church is less than 100 yards from the River Trent – a river of many unprecedented floods already.
By persistently and systematically flying DJI drones lower and lower over this work, its manufactured collapse was unavoidable – it was always going to be - just a matter of time. These last two video clips Over the Top_Below The Radar and SoundOfTheMarsh document the carefully and patiently orchestrated demise of this work. With a little persistence the [un]landscape ‘Below the Radar, 2021’ is systematically destroyed.
'As sites for more-than-human dramas, landscapes are radical tools for de-centring human hubris. Landscapes are not backdrops for historical actions: they are themselves active. Watching landscapes in formation shows humans joining other living beings in shaping worlds."
Anna Tsing The Mushroom at the End of the World.