Double channel HD & low res video, audio | Duration:12.30 minutes
Real time data feed | thermal printers | raspberry pis
In recent years, as climate concerns escalated, interest in our oceans has increased distinctly. From residents on islands such as Ireland, to scientists across the world, the world’s seas and oceans are increasingly observed and analysed. As global citizens and consumers of the Earth’s natural resources, the materiality and systematic functionality of oceans affect everyone – from the quality of the food we eat daily e.g. microbead contamination, to the rain levels that fall on our habitats, to coastal erosion and rising water levels. In today’s contemporary society, the ocean is studied in many different ways – by those whose lives are immediately affected by the water, including fishing companies and coastal residents, to scientists who use the oceans as subjects of digital study.
A new installation of artworks presented by artist Martina O’Brien explores one such oceanic area, the North East Atlantic Ocean and its coastal regions – an area especially relevant to Ireland, the UK, and Europe. Video artworks and real-time datasets, titled B-scope, C-index, focus on the tide in this region of the Atlantic Ocean, and particularly explore cutting-edge wave observation systems and data collection processes.
B-scope is a two-channel HD video and audio artwork. The video features footage taken by the artist during a recent artist’s residency aboard the research ship The Celtic Explorer in the North East Atlantic Ocean. The artist accompanied Dr Aaron Lim on the Monitoring Changes in Submarine Canyon Coral Habitats survey, on their expedition to the Porcupine Bank. The opportunity also enabled her to capture video footage from the survey’s underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) cameras. This underwater mission was to place a benthic lander - an observational platform that sits on the seabed to record physical, chemical or biological activity - in a previously unobserved area of the ocean’s floor, a terra incognita.
The underwater vehicle, physically linked to the host ship by an umbilical cable, descends and ascents to/ from the ocean floor. This artwork is an inquiry into vertical perspectives – journeying above and below the horizon line - as a counterpoint to the more familiar horizontal perspectives that explore life on Earth’s crust and its lived atmosphere. The camera acts as a sensor, giving humans the opportunity to spectate the hostile ocean floor, and providing detailed on-the-ground information to corroborate distantly gathered data.
For the duration of this exhibition, the installation includes a printer that visually processes the live-feed ocean wave data received as a result of the ROV expedition, and displays ocean wave model forecast datasets. This data is provided by The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. Furthermore, the recent ROV dive featured in B-scope took place on 15th May - a date that inadvertently aligns the expedition with four other significant journeys of exploration. These explorations, contributing to the Space Race, included the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik 3 in 1958 and Sputnik 4 in 1960, the USA’s launch of Mercury-Atlas 9 in 1961 and the Soviet Union’s launch of the Polyus spacecraft in 1987 (all launched 15th May). This shared launch date links the European expedition’s dive and its location in the Atlantic with historical expeditions that also journeyed perpendicularly to the horizon, albeit in the opposite direction. In the contemporary case of the ROV dive, this expedition’s mission is a sign of the times; rather than pushing the boundaries of humanity’s achievements regardless of the environmental consequences, scientists are now trying to predict future catasrophies to buy us more time on Earth.
The physical tools that comprise the installation - monitors, cameras, printers - are each expressions of the environment they depict. The artworks offer perspectives, via these sensory devices, on contemporary science that looks to nature to proffer the future.
B-scope, C-index is created by Martina O’Brien, developed in collaboration with Dr Florian Pappenberger, Director of Forecasts, The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, UK; Dr Alessandro Annunziato, Daniele Galliano & Thomas Petroliagkis, The European Crisis Management Laboratory, Joint Research Centre, Italy; and Dr Aaron Lim, University College Cork, in association with Parity Studios and The Irish Centre for Applied Geoscience, University College Dublin.