Barbara Mary Keating: Rhumb Lines

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    Rhumb Lines


Creation Year:



Artist Statement:

    Rhumb Lines is a playful, immersive, cinematic, interactive video installation chat explores how we think we know where we are in time, space, and history. It invites viewers to navigate a mesmerizing series of interlinked videos using location data and scanning the horizon to seek out hidden co-ordinates and signs of the River Tyne’s magnetic attraction for artists over the centuries, translated into beautiful Red One super-wide-screen images. Viewers scroll a map generated from sonar-scan data, with the GPS tracks overlaid to trigger corresponding videos. They scrub through the cinematic widescreen videos seeking journey intersections, and the frames of video are graded to look like archive paintings. Device control creates an apparent suspension of “real” time that could be staged on any waterway in the world with sonar-scan survey data.

    I was brought up by the sea, and the UK is an island nation with a significant maritime history. The River Tyne was the first place to have a Life Brigade, and subsequencly painted narratives of the sea turned from wreckage and war to the saving of lives. I began to imagine a point where all possible journeys in time and space intersect in the river’s mouth. Using daymarks, lighthouses, and modern instruments, I set out to explore it. I’m fascinated by navigational history, theory, and technology ancient and modern, and the logical outcome of following a rhumb line. After caking an initial bearing, one proceeds along chat bearing, without changing direction as measured relative to true north. An infinite spiral is traversed, because the earth is round.

    With the above in mind, I looked at local archive paintings of the river and began colourgrading video to resemble some of the paintings. I then experimented with reverse zoom, filming from vessels, panning and tilting to keep the piers at the river mouth in centre frame, but it is not possible to achieve this effect manually or in post-production. We adapted software to make GPS control the camera zoom, matching the speed of the vessel precisely using Red One digital technology. GPS tracks were recorded during filming, day and night.