I was invited to make a film by Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth, relating to plastic pollution in local waterways. Without long to make this piece, I responded with haste by recognising that swimming in the sea is for me an utterly life affirming, joy giving activity. Currently though, not only plastic, but also sewage is threatening these ecologies. My approach was to reflect these conflicting concerns by depicting the sea to be both nourishing and dangerous.
My current practice is investigating self- portraiture with the Bolex camera and how multiple exposures and altered movements might alter my appearance making me become monstrous and grotesque. I planned to continue this work with performance by simply taking the camera underwater with me and observing how holding my breath and being in the sea distorted my face. The graffiti of Greta Thunberg amidst rising sea levels was in my mind.
In actuality I found that the strong Portsmouth sea currents and also my own buoyancy made it extremely hard to control the planned choreography. I had to modify the process and in so doing acknowledge the sea as a protagonist. The water lent formal elements that were unexpected, such as eddies and foam, and glancing bright light activating the surface and giving it a haptic quality. With the camera at the rate of 8 FPS (fast motion) along with the PF2 b&w film stock, the surface textures had a quality of writing and contrasted with my own stillness.
Here’s the film: