Camden Lock/Henley-on-Thames

Materials: Fibre Glass pod, bolts VHS projection.

'Flow': Tim Head, Simon Faithful, Lindsay Seers. Curated by Richard Milner.

Excerpt from: We saw you coming; 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas, Apollo 13 and 2001. Author: Lisa Panting

In 2002 Lindsey Seers made a work called Photoscoptopus in response to a location, Pirates Castle on Regent’s canal, London. London’s canals have until fairly recently been a series of dilapidated arteries running through the city that had an underworld almost supernatural feel. Much of Seers’ practice plays with the boundaries of the fantastical and otherworldliness and one can imagine the attraction to the mythological possibilities that Pirates Castle contained. It was here that the underwater scenes from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea first made their appearance in her work – projected onto a sphere made to the same dimensions as the one made by The Williamson brothers, early specialists in marine photography. They provided the underwater shots filmed from a constructed pod – giving cinema audiences the first underwater footage ever to appear in a feature film. The pod became therefore an entity through which Seers could effect a kind of reversal. By constructing a sphere to the Williamson dimensions and projecting underwater scenes from the film on the sphere’s surface, Seers takes on nature as ‘other’ (in this case the sublime presented by the overwhelming nature of the depths of the sea) as a possibility for providing psychological space. This particular act of ‘appropriation’ is poignant, as Barthes analysis of Verne noted ‘The basic activity of J.Verne, then, is unquestionably that of appropriation. The image of the ship, so important in his mythology…is at a deeper level, the emblem of closure’. If Verne’s Nautilus is an emblem of closure then the footage made of Verne’s novel in 1916 and appropriated much later by Seers speaks of an infinitude and a latitude that is more akin to a kind of rupture that feeds back into the possibility of a psychological freeing. Seers has effected a transposal, a literal bringing to the surface where the inside out-ness of it all, also analogous to the process of photography itself – the act of which permeates Seers practice as a whole.

Water has long been a place to inspire extraordinary myths. The siting of the playful Pirate's Castle on the banks of an urban canal is symptomatic of the fantastic quality of water and its adventurous associations. Somehow the inscrutable quality of the surface of water and its hidden depths can make us wonder of the creatures beneath and obscured objects that have been either willfully or accidentally hidden there. Taking her inspiration from early film special effects Lindsay Seers has constructed a video that references the first underwater shots in film in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1916) featuring a rubber octopus. In this work the film rises to the surface on a fiber glass buoy and floats and glows at night above the dark water.