Playing in the dark with the models produced quite poetic moving shadows and I felt compelled to make a video.
The sounds reflect my thoughts on an uninhabited arctic wasteland, where installations are left from one year’s end to the next. Like the nuclear-powered lighthouses built around the northern coasts of the erstwhile USSR now looted for their copper wiring, the looters will have got hotter swag than they may have hoped for.
For the degree show, the models were attached to a conveyor belt mounted on filing cabinets so that they circle relentlessly. There is a light shining on them so that moving shadows are cast on the wall behind the machine.
The filing cabinets were a particularly lucky find and added considerations of bureaucracy.
The piece is displayed in dark space and can be viewed only through a narrow slit, like a gun-sight in a thick concrete bunker. This is significantly frustrating; clearly for the convenience of those within not those without. It is suggestive of paranoia and concealment as well as of value; something here was considered to be in need of preservation through extreme circumstances.
The conveyor circles between the cabinets. In the drawers are forgotten, official looking documents. Everything is grey. Overall the work has an air of ‘retro-futurism’ the circling of the conveyor reminds of bureaucracy; regulations and restrictions are engendered because they become possible to enforce not because they are ‘needed’. Statutes remain though the reasons for their existence are lost, their original purposes subverted.
Like a Kafka office, empty but for a ringing phone, this office is long forgotten, down some secret corridor. No knows who is meant to work here, yet edicts continue to be ground out; directives circle endlessly. The models though small are not benign, like the creeping restrictions which are enacted unnoticed, and morsel by morsel freedoms are eroded as governments draw secrecy and paranoid around themselves.
The models are enigmatic – military? Industrial? Functional? Derelict? They do not reveal their secrets.
Secrets can be old and decayed but secrets they remain. Secret graveyards of abandoned nuclear submarines and naval ships of the USSR in arctic seas were far from prying eyes until Google Earth revealed their slender silhouettes. They will remain for a long time, slowly seeping radioactivity and other noxious effluents into the sea. Biological activity in Polar Regions is so slowed by cold that insults to the environment remain as unchanging scars. Vegetation does not grow over exposed soil; the detritus of World War II fighting is still scattered on the surface of battlefields of north Finland and the Kola Peninsula. Poisoned land and sea will stay poisoned. The sounds evoke this arctic coldness and desolation, a whistling wind and clanking metal with an electrical hum, suggesting activity but deserted.
The title, Nowhere/Somewhere/Everywhere, suggests that though based on nowhere and despite a slightly ridiculous, pathetic air there is much in the world to which it could refer and that which it references – the will to power – is something to be universally guarded against.