CURRENTLY evolved from artists/curators Amanda Steggell and Ross Dalziel’s mutual fascination with the coastal marine environment, its sciences, technology and data streams and originating from conversations based around our two independently established blogs – Steggell: Nautilog and Dalziel: Fishermenfriends.
In 2012 we worked on a research proposal to develop an artistic and curatorial platform, secure supporting partnerships and a fundraising strategy for the development and production of a challenging, two month journey-based residential research project investigating life on a shelf sea (as described below). The aim: to create an accumulative, eclectic artistic programme – a new body of work – which can be shared with a public in various socially engaged ways and locations in Norway and the UK, and through this ignite a passion and concern for the challenges that face the marine environment and in turn, our world today.
The journey envisaged
A group of artists will sail between Oslo and Liverpool, while others will work in parallel from strategic coastal land-based and possibly floating stations close to the shore. For the duration of the journey the artists will engage in marine/maritime research activities to develop prototype works and prototype-ideas on different aspects of the marine environment. The journeying artists will stop at ports on the way to share their work with an audience. The parallel group will have a public presence on – or close to the shore.
The artists will make regular reports and announcements via blogs, live data feeds, social media, marine radio and any other means they find appropriate to communicate their work to the public – and each other. The plan is intended to open up a space for numerous possible ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore experiments, interactions and interventions for working together and engaging with a public. The journey will steer the course.
CURATING CONDITIONS. #HACKING REALITY
We wanted to develop a platform for artists to use online resources to inspire, explore and support all kinds of creative processes and question the extent to which artistic endeavours can feedback into the marine environment. Inspired by the conference “Curating Reality. New Tools for Investigative Journalism”, we imagined CURRENTLY as a form of investigation: a data journalism for artists. To paraphrase Alfredo Cramerotti in his description of Aesthetic Journalism; a data journalism for artists could position the artistic activity within a mesh of criteria of journalism and art that queries the realm of fiction as the site of imagination and that of journalism as a site for reality.
In the proposal we focused on developing a pro-active, practice-based research to generate new work over a period of time, and in turn a critical space for this area of work. In this respect SHIPPR , framed as a ‘datajournalism’ project currently being developed by Maurits de Bruijn and Juha van ‘t Zelfde (nl) caught our attention. SHIPR draws attention towards the impact that maritime transportation networks have on the world in terms of economy, environmental consequences, etc – an issue that is rarely reported on on a daily basis. Or in other words; open up the ‘forgotten spaces’ of maritime transportation. The project aims to engineer access and sociability to data for investigative purposes: artistic or otherwise.
Likewise the Owl Project develop hybrid music making machines, interfaces and objects which intermix pre-steam and digital technologies to explore the relationship between physical and technological space. Their most recent project Flowmill, at The Baltic in Newcastle creates its own openly accessible datastreams and presents them to the public in an inventive engaging way on board a floating water powered platform on the River Tyne.
The potential of social media and open source methodologies to distribute this work to the public and other artists is supported by the skill sets of the group who include some social media, hardware and software developers. The many possible routes from Oslo to Liverpool span seas, fjords, fish farms, natural marine reserves, waterways and canal networks, urban and rural areas, industrial sites and wastelands. They provide a potent landscape for the journey, with many ports and havens for stops on the way. Thus the project can mine a rich area of emerging and rapidly growing research; as economic prospecting in biological and geological fields continues exponentially.
The marine space is the key yet forgotten site for how the global economy operates and issues like the fight for ownership of dockland and terminal by public and private stakeholders will affect us all. The potential for artistic, political and critical engagement, reflection and inference from this are profound, with ample local resonances in Oslo, Liverpool and Barrow.
We contacted several artists and artist groups we thought would be interested in participating. Probing further, we asked them to suggest starting points for what they would like to investigate and develop over a two year period. They come from coastal regions of Norway, the UK and the Netherlands and have diverse practice within the visual, performative and media art sphere. They are: Hillevi Munthe, Elisabeth Weihe and Jana Winderen (no), artist groups Open Source Swan Pedalo, Owl Project, POINT FIVE (uk) and Juha van ‘t Zelfde (nl).
Case studies of other boat residency programmes such as M.A.R.I.N, Mäkelä / Peljhan, 2009 – 2011 can provide valuable insights to the pre projecting period. This example highlights the need for preparing for the journey; its first mission failed to provide conditions for both sustainable living and research conditions on their voyage. Another example is the Open Sailing project; an example of how to document and manage the CURRENTLY research.
Three main strands of study
The Journey (for example, its practical and social conditions)
Maritime and marine research
Transformation of research into artistic expression
How can the outcomes be framed within a contemporary art context?
How do all these elements interact and affect one another?
What kinds of preparations do we need to make?
By investigating such questions via research/field trips, meetings, discussions, presentations and Hackspace meetings with curators and artists, while also extending our current list of supporting partners, we hope to establish a practical, artistic and critical foundation for moving on to the next phase of the project. We refer to this phase as CURRENTLY 13 – curating conditions, through which we will prepare for the production of the ship-to-shore voyage planned for Jul-Aug 2014.
The financing plan leans heavily on funds from Norway – partially because of the economic situation in the UK, but also due to what we perceive as a less lengthy bureaucratic application process in Norway, which allows for more flexibility and experimentation in a project such as ours. A main aim of the pre project is to prepare applications for appropriate UK and international funding bodies for the project development and production phase. We also see a potential for attracting sponsorships.