Verity Birt

WTF: Where's the Flux?

Verity produced the light box commission WTF: Where's the Flux? to coincide with the launch of SUMP, an exhibition by Benedict Drew and Nicholas Brooks. February - April 2016.



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WTF: Where's the Flux?

P/N: Hi Verity, your light box image has a texture/quality that suggests it is a screen grab? Is it a frame from one of your films; if not, how did you make it?

VB: No, it isn’t a direct ‘still’, but that quality has probably a lot to do with using Final Cut to build the image. It’s a layering of moving with static and animated imagery and exported as an image between 2 frames from the editing software. For me, this layering of various temporalities is a more familiar way to create an image, using the timeline to move through and assemble the image temporally. I come from a background in painting, so this probably influences how I use the digital textures and materialities of the screen- teasing out the tactility of the pixel. I’m interested in the topology of the digital image, its transformations and representations.

P/N: Do you see this as a stand alone image or part of a wider piece of work? Should we see a particular film of yours to get some greater context or understanding?

VB: The image has developed from my most recent work Rites of the Zeitgeber - a 9 channel CRT video installation which I did in collaboration with musician ‘U’. This resulted in a live performance at Café Oto on the 19th feb where we created a henge-like ceremonial space in which 3 monolithic CRT towers presented a mythology of a time God ‘Zeitgeber’ (meaning ‘time-giver’ or ‘synchronizer’). This work came out of my current research on futurist Posthumanism and a niche within that called ‘psychedelic transhumanism’. I’m interested in the threshold between technological transcendence and a more materialist embodiment. I’m trying to work out where I stand in regards to these ideas through a process of making.

P/N: So the guy in the image isn't saying what the fuck with his 'W' hand gesture, as the title of your light box commission, WTF: Where's the Flux? suggests?!

VB: I like the way this could be interpreted. The gesture in the image is sign language for ‘whole world’ - it’s a really rhythmical and beautifully simple expression. But I like the slippage of communication, somewhere between gesture, performance and language. But as it’s a still, its now denying communication- its between gesture and meaning, but you can’t help trying to produce semiotics. WTF (where’s the flux) is actually a star that was discovered by citizen scientists in October last year. They observed a strange pattern of light fluctuations surrounding it that has raised speculation that a ‘Dyson Sphere’ predicted by the Kardashev Scale may have been discovered, leading to the expression of disbelief ‘what the fuck’. The Kardashev scale is a method of measuring a civilization's level of technological advancement, based on the amount of energy a civilization is able to utilize to be directed towards communication. The Dyson Sphere is an energy extracting devise around a star which was predicted to be used by a more advanced (type II) civilization than our own. Many hypotheses have been proposed involving material orbiting the star and blocking its light, but none of these fully explain the observed data…

P/N: So does that relate to the planetary landscapes in your image?

VB: Yeah, the landscapes are from NASA’s ‘Thermal Emission Imaging System’ which produces this incredible psychedelic ‘false colour’ data in order to analyze geological anomalies and terrain features, much like how we use Geophysics in archeology on Earth. One image I’ve used is from the 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft and depicts the traces of wind streaks over the craters on Mars. I’ve also used an image from the recent Geophysical surveys carried out around the Stonehenge site, where they discovered many more vast astronomical alignment features from the Neolithic. Perhaps because I grew up in that area (just outside Glastonbury…) I’m fascinated by humanity’s changing relationship to the Earth, especially in the current context of Space exploration, climate change, and Posthumanism.

P/N: Can we see your work anywhere soon?

VB: Yes- I’m currently working on a collaborative project working with Space scientists at Kings College Centre for Human and Aerospace Sciences, and RALSpace (Rutherford Appleton Laboratory) resulting in an installation and series of events for Somerset House’s Utopia Programme in August 2016, so look out for that.

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