The Hidden Half-Round

La Chasse, L'H du Siège, Valenciennes, John Grade, 2011

La Chasse, Foret Domaniale de Raismes, Scarpe-Escaut, John Grade, 2011

John Grade has been artist in residence at L’H du Siège, Valenciennes, France for the past three months during which time he has made two interrelated works that are now on show until 19 February, 2011.

La Chasse (The Hunt), is in two parts, a large sculpture in the gallery and a film shot around a temporary structure made in the Parc naturel régional Scarpe-Escaut. Both show forms that have half-round sections and that are the inverse of each other in several ways. The gallery sculpture is a dark and ponderous shadow to the other’s light and sketchy net.  They complete one another, top and bottom and share the same horizon like earth and sky.

There is an interesting sequence in the film in which hunters are following a trail in the forest by torchlight at night, their beams of light casting elongated forms into the darkness. There is something of the film-noir about it, as if someone has escaped – there is noise, heavy breathing, some confusion, all senses are poised to combat the darkness, to react, run or shoot.

See the film here.

That forest scene makes me think of both the hidden and the hunted and I was reminded of other half-round structures that I have been reading about recently. The Auxiliary Units created half-round Nissen hut style underground shelters and ammunition stores in woodland throughout Sussex to resist a possible German invasion in WWII. Many had narrow escape tunnels that expanded into larger, hemispherical spaces, like these at Ditchling and at Shipley near Horsham.

Auxiliary Unit Zero Station, Shipley

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Aerial Viewing

When a photograph becomes a map, when a map becomes a model.

Sources: annotated photograph, aerial map, artist map, model landscape.

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The Affected Area

I am researching examples of how geographical areas of interest or exclusion are illustrated in fiction by a drawn line on a map.

In John Wyndham’s science fiction novel, The Midwich Cuckoos, 1957,  (later filmed as The Village of the Damned, 1960) a circular line is plotted on a map to determine the area around the village of Midwich in which people are mysteriously falling unconscious.

“One watching private stepped forward with his bucket and daubed a little whitewash on the grass, the other made a mark on his map. The party then moved along a dozen yards or so, and repeated the performance.”

“… and he produced a large‑scale map showing a perfect circle almost two miles in diameter, with Midwich Church lying somewhat south and a little east of its centre.”

In the film M, Fritz Lang, 1931, police searching for the killer of a child sweep an area of the city in ever-increasing circles in search of clues. An animated sequence of the film shows a compass line being drawn on a map as the search advances.

“Within a radius of 2 km, we have searched all the candy stores to find out where the bag came from, everyday our search widens…”

More on cinematic maps here…

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The Sun Rises on a Changed World

Mosque of Omar (three-part dissolve)

Day to night narratives grant the opportunity for other transformations.

Lit by artificial or other means the components of night landscapes gain emphasis and meaning.

Scenes played out under the cover of night are revealed at daybreak.

The sun rises on a changed world.

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Map Room – Black Rain

I am working on the storyboard for a new animation. It will be the second in a series of video installations that show the animated drawing of landscape maps featured in popular works of fiction. It is based on the map of Lincoln Island from the novel Mysterious Island by Jules Verne. The novel concludes with the destruction of the island in a volcanic explosion.

Key frames –

1. Smoke begins to appear in the crater.
2. A cloud rises and starts to develop form.
3. It darkens and spreads.
4. Growing in size it closes in.
5. Engulfing the field of vision.
6. Billowing, mountains and deep ravines appear in its folds.
7. Vertigo.
8. Greying and flattening.
9. The cloud thins.
10. To reveal the island has disappeared.
11. Apart from a small rock.
12. Black rain begins to fall.
13. Spotting the blank map.
14. And forming blots.
15. And inky puddles.
16. That flow into shallow pools.
17. That deepen and flood.
18. Until all is black and still.
19. An abyss revealed in dark shadows.
20. Deep movements bring suspensions to the surface.
21. Forming a pearlescent oily slick,
22. On saturated paper.
23. That fades to a stain at it’s edges.
24. Revealing the island in the marks of a retreating tide

Other Jules Verne maps can be found here.

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A Model Village Slideshow

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Longmoor Urban Training Complex, Hampshire

Himley Hall, West Midlands

Xe Services LLC, (formerly Blackwater), North Carolina

Copehill Down, F.I.B.U.A. Training Facility, Wiltshire

Sennybridge Training Area, Mynydd Epynt

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