Monday, 6 October 2014

Architecture of Mundane Routines

Here’s me playing around with GPS and cell tower data collected on my phone. I spent twenty days working from home and locally in Archway, North London, then imported my location data from my phone into Google Earth. In the film, each day is presented as a different contour elevation. I’ve either frozen 20 days of local flâneury or accelerated 20 days of nursery drop-offs, shopping and mooching into 2 minutes. Or neither. You decide.

Considering that our phone apps are leaking geodata most of the time, I just wanted to see what an accrued body of this stuff might look like.

Link to Vimeo to see the film:

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Close Nostalghia

Two more favourite, paradoxical films sets...

Monday, 16 June 2014

Overlord (Stuart Cooper,1975)

Here are a few screen shots from Overlord, a feature film from 1975, made by Kubrick's some-time Director of Photography, Stuart Cooper. The film fuses some pretty staggering archive aerial footage footage of the D-Day landings with some hypnotic, dreamlike acting scenes of a small group of infantry soldiers going through basic training and then heading off to the Normandy beaches with the allied invasion force.  

The images here show the kind of home-spun models used by the commanding officers to illustrate the battlefront and points of attack, and illustrate that when trying to convey geographical information, nothing quite beats a flat surface with a map on it and some added local knowledge.

Today, its seems like 3D printing is taking off in a big way in this this sector with the US military commissioning companies like Solid Terrain Modelling to recreating complex topographies, shorelines, borders, points of attack, etc all in miniature.

 The extension of maps into three dimensions is not a new concept but it illustrates a kind of leaching of real-world geographies (ie, the third dimension...) into its own pictorial/graphic representation. My current work (in collaboration with Newcastle University) looks at how we might represent invisible airspaces and danger areas in the landscape, but alternatively it might also be possible to possible to represent weather systems, electromagnetic signal distributions, hidden infrastructure and even statistical information as extensions of local geographies.

There is also the question of art. I'm supposed to be making 'artworks' for Newcastle and find it easy to get side-tracked by the purely descriptive. However, I think it is easy to envisage or represent purely imaginative geographies with assemblages of forms that allude to theoretical or abstract concepts - spaces of possibilities.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Air/Assemblage *2

More work in progress. This one is the first test model of STANTA battleground airspace in East Anglia, held together by blu-tack and will power. I visited the area recently... not much activity though.

Monday, 9 June 2014


Leverhulme work-in-progress. This is the airspace over Otterburn and it's huge...

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Emerging Landscape: Beyond production and representation

I've got a chapter in this new glossy colour book - it's called The Military Spatial Complex and looks at how the continuous preparation for war has created an immense, interconnected system of spaces and infrastructures that extends way beyond the use of land for training. The chapter described a defence estate that acts like a mechanism to regulate the logistical flows of people, vehicles, and weapon systems around the UK and beyond. A huge thanks to Davide Deriu, Krystallia Kamvasinou and Eugenie Shinkle for bringing the book to completion.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Nine Elms: film as spatial critique

I'll be in conversation with film maker Patrick Keiller tomorrow night the Open University annex in Camden Town

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Devil's Punchbowl

We spotted a hole in the bad weather and spent the weekend driving round the Brecklands in Suffolk searching for images for the Newcastle airspace art project. We skirted round the huge military training area to the north of Thetford, known as STANTA, aware that above our heads was an even bigger danger area extending up to 7500ft.  Finding no material evidence of this (why would there be?), we were quickly diverted to the Devil’s Punchbowl on the southern edge of the firing range.

Almost certainly caused by subsidence in the limestone bedrock this weird geological anomaly looks like a huge impact crater with dramatic concentric rings of vegetation emanating from the centre. In fact, my navigator for the day has a text by a 19th century antiquarian claiming that it was caused by a meteorite which was seen in the skies by many locals at the time. I’m happy to go along with this apocryphal tale if only because it reminds us that extraterrestrial stuff falls through our seemingly regulated skies every day.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Aero film screenshot

Here's a screen shot of the film mentioned in the previous post. It is still in postproduction (importing over 70 still images takes time...).

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Wings of Desire Lite

The Leverhulme residency at Newcastle University is progressing well. At the moment, I'm working with Dr Alison Williams in the the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology on a short film which fuses B&W aerial footage (shot on a commercial flight to Norway) with cartographic representations of militarised airspace. It's all looking a bit Wings of Desire lite at the moment though (no bad thing, I suppose...).

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Black Hawk Down in Cley, Norfolk

The crash of an American military Pave Hawk on the north Norfolk coast killing four service personnel is a tragic reminder that the airspace of the UK is regularly used for USAF training exercises.