Winspit explores the physical terrain of an old quarry in Dorset. In the early stages of this research I had been drawn to Winspit, mainly due to the quarry floors moonlike terrain. I had wanted to capture the materiality of the site, in contrast to how the site had previously been filmed as a background location for TV productions.
In Atlas of Emotion: Journeys in art, Architecture and Film (Verso, 2002), Bruno discusses ‘this shift away from the long-standing focus of film theory on sight, towards the construction of a moving theory of site’. This movement from optic to haptic reflects film’s position within the spatial arts, sitting more comfortably next to architecture and theatre than many of the visual arts. Traditional theories of the ‘filmic gaze’ fail to address the effect of spatiality, the act of crossing or inhabiting space are not explored or explained. In order to draw attention to the moonscape interior, an iPad was mounted on a motorised buggy that travelled across the quarry floor recording the detail of the terrain. The results were interesting but it was difficult to control the speed and direction of the buggy so it was developed using a fixed track.
An iPad mounted on a motorised track spans the length of the quarry floor recording the detail of the terrain, scanning the site, like a forensic instrument. The iPad slightly magnifies the actual site underneath; this in turn creates a physical effect for the viewer, as the screen appears to ‘open up’ the ground below. The noise of the motorised rig and the illuminated screen guides the viewer deep into the site. The audience experiences an activation of site, a curious interaction/dialogue between technology and nature, a scientific investigation. Winspit fundamentally questions the relationship between image and so-called real space, and likewise attempts to present moving image in dialogue with natural form.
Film documentation of site performance.
The site was open for audience feedback at strategically positioned points in the project. In most cases the feedback dramatically informed the practical and technical development of the work. An example being that during one of the open sites the feedback gained from all participants suggested that the speed of the iPad motorized installation was too fast, as one participant wrote, “It is hard to really see the image on the screen, it is moving so fast that I tend to look at the iPad as an object rather than a screen”(Audience Feedback). This feedback was fundamental to the development of the piece as the phenomenological effect only worked when the speed was fast enough to be seen as a surface texture but slow enough for the viewer to be immersed in the screen image.
“This is my second visit, I came back now it is dark…I much prefer the work in the dark, the iPad appears from nowhere, it draws me into the cave. I now feel part of the work, before there were too many distractions, I couldn’t focus upon the machine, plus now I have to look through the screen to see the ground underneath, this makes me think more carefully about the ground I am stood on, if it is safe.” (Audience feedback)
“I feel in-between technology and nature, a scientific investigation or experiment. Could there be more than one, maybe two or three could be running at the same time, scanning different sections of the cave?” (Audience feedback)
“I feel like I am holding a torch and lighting my path. I wonder what would happen if the track went around the walls of the cave rather than just the ground, would it have the same physical impact?” (Audience feedback)
“It’s like an explorer and observer in one. The cave looks like a moonscape, I see it differently through the screen” (Audience feedback)