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Forensic Oceanography, Emilija Škarnulytė, Ayesha Hameed, Filipa César and Louis Henderson

A program of short films exploring the visual geopolitics of oceans

Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Memory
  • Social Justice

Organizing Institutions

Slought, Cinema Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania, Concordia University

Organizers

Gwynne Fulton, Ilona Jurkonyte

Opens to public

09/14/2017

Time

6:30-8pm

Slought is pleased to announce Sea of Images, a program of short films that investigates the visual geopolitics of oceans, on Thursday, September 14th from 6:30-8pm. The program features works by artists and researchers including Forensic Oceanography, Emilija Škarnulytė, Ayesha Hameed, Filipa César and Louis Henderson that consider the connections between visual technologies of maritime surveillance, borders and migration, historical memory and witnessing. Organized in conjunction with the Concordia-Penn Graduate Student Conference "Counterpublics," this program will launch Slought's new Mediatheque space. Organizer Gwynne Fulton will introduce the films, and the screening will be followed by a public discussion.

The sea has been variously theorized as a blank space outside of time and history and a "terra nullius," or a commons that facilitates movement, but belongs to no one. Roland Barthes once described the ocean as a semiological void that "bears no message." This program brings together experimental media practices that critically intervene in these interpretations by reframing the spatial order of the sea as a historical construct produced and mediated by imaging technologies.

The works presented in this program explore connections between optical apparatuses of surveillance, history and memory, violence and visibility, suggesting a series of overlapping questions: What is the forensic status of images? How have technologies of surveillance—from modern navigation and cartography through networked satellites and aperture radio—produced the sea, rather than merely representing it? How have they been deployed by mobile practices of maritime governance to police offshore borders? And how can they be repurposed to bear witness to the ocean's subaltern stories? This program considers the sea as a material witness to an archive of diasporic memory that spans from the Black Atlantic to the Mediterranean. Defying traditional forms of temporality and historiography, these works develop new strategies of visual engagement from opacity and fugitivity to abstraction and op-art that help us interpret what Forensic Oceanography has called "liquid traces" of these counterpublic histories. Deploying image practice as an archeological and forensic method, they articulate a submarine resistance to the dominant visual order of sovereignty at sea.

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About the Films

Forensic Oceanography's Liquid Traces: Left-to-Die-Boat (2015) utilizes rerouted data from government remote-sensing and surveillance technologies to visualize, with precision, the deathly trajectories of migration in the Central Mediterranean Sea. This forensic reconstruction demonstrates the complex and overlapping jurisdictions at sea that allow EU states to evade responsibility for rescuing people in distress.

Emilija Škarnulytė's Sirenomelia (2017) is an oneiric, post-documentary work named after a rare congenital deformity called Mermaid Syndrome, that traces a mermaid's explorations of a classified cold-war era 25,000m2 decommissioned NATO submarine base in Arctic Norway.

Ayesha Hameed's A Rough History (of the Destruction of Fingerprints) (2015) looks at the coalescence of skin and data in the collection in the EURODAC system and in the migrant practice of the destruction of fingerprints. It examines the life and circulation of the fingerprint in a speculative history that travels from maritime border checks to early gestures in film.

Filipa César and Louis Henderson's Sunstone (2017) is an archeological "Op-Film" that circumnavigates a disorienting dérive of optical technologies of cartography, navigation and surveillance, from the material production of Fresnel lighthouse lenses to the invention of global navigation satellite systems (GNSS)—the tool that announces the obsolescence of the lighthouse.

Films

Forensic Oceanography (Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani)
Liquid Traces: Left-to-Die-Boat
2015, 19 min

Emilija Škarnulytė
Sirenomelia
2017, 6 min

Ayesha Hameed
A Rough History (of the Destruction of Fingerprints)
2015, 9 min

Filipa César and Louis Henderson
Sunstone
2017 (work in progress), 30 min