OCEAN LAB: REUNION ISLANDS

In June Willoh travelled to the Reunion Islands, a small, pretty incredible, volcanic, island paradise in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Madagascar. While she was there she spoke to local marine biologist Emmanuel Tessier, Director of Reunion Islands National Marine Reserve filmic career influences, impacts of population growth in small places, tourist attitudes, the state of the reef and the state of…the future.

Dear Willoh, What is interesting to you about liveness and remoteness?

Dear LED, For me the concurrence of events in time and space has meaning and resonance.  Even if it’s just a patchy little image on an iPhone of someone projecting onto a boab tree in Madagascar, the fact it is NOW gives it a quality that will always be different from the pre-recorded image. I am interested in harnessing the fascination and voyeurism in that NOW and asking how and why we can be enthralled by something far away from us, barely perceptible. For me it’s connected to our ability to empathise, which maybe sounds lofty, but what I care about is completely dictated by what I can see in front me.

At present, working in remote areas, without military or commercial television style budgets, networked immediacy is not really available. We are stuck in a low bandwidth, no NBS reality, where our imaginations seem to go way beyond what we the existing infrastructure allows. AE will try and look at what liveness can mean when you are in an area with patchy network coverage miles from anywhere and a solar battery.

There are some amazing works and interventions such as the iPhone weather balloons streaming live the Chilean student protests that are examples of nomadic DIY responses that harness liveness to illuminate something current

I like also that in making work for an online, omnipresent audience the work itself becomes responsible and responsive to a wider context than just its immediate one. Also, in working in remote and beautiful places one of the aims is to find ways into these places for an audience that means they don’t have to trample on it themselves.

I like remote places because I grew up on a boat and both my parents live on remote islands in different parts of the world. Geographical isolation causes speciation. I love all the weirdos, the pirates, the people who choose the edge over comfort.

There’s a fluency with tech that has developed that I love. People relate to their phones, tablets, computers as pets, as lovers and extra limbs and this is not in am way confined to the urban developing world it is everywhere and incessant checking, stroking, fretting over them- so am interested with how art that is made using networked technologies can tap in and extend this love affair- can be lived as part of a daily, normal engagement with technology.
I guess that the mediated experience becomes or is the ‘live’ one because it is so sociologically normalised.


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