INSULAE is a meditation on the sea within a particular social and political framework, and at the same time, it’s a demonstration of the constructedness of this imagery which makes claims at representing reality. This Google Earth satellite imagery has the quality of looking like ‘reality’ but in fact it is a patchwork of data from different sources, processed, visually enhanced, artificially beautified and reconstructed by Google and the major satellite imaging suppliers. Some objects will have been removed or obscured behind the scenes at the request of governments with sufficient political clout. While making INSULAE one of the reasons I found the Google Earth sea footage so fascinating is that it is kind of marginal data – a place where people don’t normally look. So this constructed nature of this world is so much more apparent than you’d find for example if you were looking at the streets of London. When you watch INSULAE you will see all these ‘data borders’ – lines where 2 or more separate sets of satellite imagery are joined together. And then there is a perimeter – another border – where the fairly high resolution imagery stops and becomes a blurred approximation of sea water. I find this really interesting as a tracer of strategic attention-paying. So it was important to me not to alter the quality or nature of the footage – the colours, distortion, artificial borders and glitches are all products of the original satellite imagery and the way that this has been handled and re-constructed at source.
I also wanted to create a very particular experience for the viewer, something on a more physical level. We are all so over-stimulated all the time – especially by digital media – that I wanted to create something that was cognitively quite quiet. A piece of work where nothing much happens for large periods of time and the viewer is just waiting. I’m interested in that state of anticipation. Because then when something does happen – when something new glides into view – you are able to give it a much higher degree of attention, and I think there is something very emotionally rewarding in that.