[ISEA2022] Artist Talk: Lawrence Bird — Earth or World? Media-spaces between the surveil and the Possible

Artist Statement 

June 12, MACBA – Convent dels Àngels. Session: Mediated spaces

Keywords: Earth imagery, satellite imagery, geography, landscape, projection-mapped video

This work addresses regimes of representation; harvesting satellite imagery, and projecting it as moving images onto relics of western legacy, in hybrids of image, space and materiality. This talk presents past work as context and introduces a work in progress (Net) addressing the international shipping and its impact on landscape.

The talk presents a media art practice intent on revealing the flaws in modern attempts to map the world – accentuating the seams and ruptures which emerge during the capturing and processing of images by automated systems – and connecting them to the damage done to the Earth by historical and contemporary systems of land division and extraction. One way my practice tries to achieve this is by harvesting aerial and satellite imagery (from Google Earth and other popular mapping/imaging platforms), manipulating and projecting it as moving images in public space. Projection sites are chosen for their connection to the subject of each work, and the intention is that bringing the image back to spaces implicated in its extraction contributes in some way to the recognition of the damage done. The product is a phantasmagoric space neither merely material nor image, historical not contemporary. The talk presents past work as context: Transect, images harvested from the Greenwich Prime Meridian and projected at the Royal Naval Hospital, Greenwich, UK in 2014; parallel, recorded along the 49th line of latitude, the border between the US and Canada, 2017; and Dominion, a meta-surveille of the impact on the prairie landscape of Canada’s 19th-century Dominion Land Survey, projected at the Forks National Historical Site, Winnipeg, Canada, in 2018). A similar concern with impacts of technologies of labour and image on the human body motivates smaller works presented as part of the SNMAA-ISEA2022. Finally the talk introduces a work in progress (Net), which addresses routes of the international shipping industry and its impact on landscapes around the world. Taken together these works intend to raise the question: who might live in such spaces? What kind of a Possible world, and citizen, might they represent?

  • Lawrence Bird (CA) practices in architecture, urban design and media art. His artistic practise focuses on relationships of image to space, materiality and the body, often exploiting broken digital systems. His work has been installed at RAW:Gallery (Winnipeg), Inter/Access Gallery (Toronto), Furtherfield Gallery (London, UK), Greenwich Royal Naval Hospital (UK), Espace Architecture La Cambre Horta (Brussels), and the International Symposium on Electronic Arts 2017 (Manizales, Colombia). His design practise has spanned from work at Pentagram Design on the reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (1988, 1989-1990) to his current contributions at Sputnik Architecture on cultural and heritage sites in Western Canada (2019-present). Lawrence has a PhD in History & Theory of Architecture and a professional degree in architecture from McGill University, as well as an MSc (City Design & Social Science) from London School of Economics. His research has been funded by SSHRC, FQRSC, and the Canada Council for the Arts. https://vimeo.com/lawrencebird