Welcome to follow Imagining Godzilla, a floating art research platform sailing in the Baltic Sea in and around Helsinki between August 19-24, 2019.
During the week, artist duo Andy Best & Merja Puustinen will be prototyping a new type of art research platform on their sailing catamaran Godzilla with a group of artists and researchers: Pekka Niskanen & Mohamed Sleiman Labat, Gary Markle, Samir Bhowmik, Lauri Hyvärinen, Till Bovermann, Kira O'Reilly, Andrew Gryf Paterson, Petra Martinez, Simo Rouhiainen, Eva Macali and Tivon Rice.
The logbook will be updated during the week.
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SUNDAY, August 18, 2019
Left Svinö around 13.30. On board Merja, Eva Macalli + Andy, Wind SE, 7–8m/s gusty 10–12m/s. Motored out to Ryskari, then sailed. Mainsail 1 reef, genoa 2 reefs. Sailing very close to the wind, not enjoyable + gusty.
Arrival Helsinki Marina soon after 16.00. Moored to outer jetty.
Evening discussion with Gary Markle, Eva Macalli, Samir Bhowmik, Andrew Gryf Patterson, Erich Berger, Merja + Andy.
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MONDAY, August 19, 2019
Awoke to rain. Gary + Andy prepared breakfast. Pekka + Mohamed, Lauri, Till, Gary + Andy. Decision made to postpone day’s departure to around 11–12 due to rain forecast to stop later.
Helsinki Marina 60° 10,2 N, 24° 57,8 E
12.35 Sails up. Mainsail 2 reefs. Genoa 1/2 reef. 60° 08,4 N, 24° 57,14 E. SOG 4,8 COG 242.
13.22. Tacked onto stbd. Went well. Full sails. 60° 07,9 N, 24° 50,8 E. SOG 6,8 COG 134.
17.53 Moored at Isosaari. Arrived ~16.10, so people have been exploring, recording + collecting. 60° 06,35 N, 25° 03,76 E.
19.45. Arrived. Trip today 29,4 nm.
Day 1: Built a custom wood holder for the sonar transducer. The holder will be attached or hung from the middle of the red wood beam of Godzilla, centered along the structure to gather accurate sonar readings. Also, gathered all the devices and materials for the project.
(See photos 2 & 3)
Reflections on day one:
Slept last night aboard Godzilla awoke in the night with the sense of being cradled by my beloved. The rocking of the boat was both lulling and foreign. Sensing the rhythm of the sea? The desire to understand better this medium and yet aware of my incomparability or at least strongly attuned to the otherness of a vast mass of water.
Later on first day:
First day of sailing—mind blowing. Waves like bucking broncos . On Isosaari found lots of raw material, both organic and synthetic for my project. Thank you Samir for the tip and Till for sharing the cachet of old fishing net buoys and all for the many interesting conversations during the day and into the evening.
(See photos 4 & 5)
Accompanied the Imagining Godzilla crew on day one with plenty of ideas and materials for collecting sounds.
I got surprised by many things. Highlights included the clarity of my body's signal to changes in (water) wave frequency (I puked) and the various vibrations I was able to collect both on the vessel as well as on Isosaari, a small island we visited on our way back from the sea.
I was excited about the movement of the sea and how the body has to adjust to that movement.
It was my first time to go sailing, so the excitement was building up before I was in the water. For somebody who is used to be surrounded by desert, the sea is a foreign and an enchanting place.
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TUESDAY, August 20, 2019
12.13. 60° 07,35 N, 25° 05,04 N. SOG 7,6 COG 101.
12.46. Passing Itätoukki. Sunny. Wind S. 60° 05,86 N, 25° 11,0 E. SOG 6,0 COG 102
Arrived 17.15. Trip 36,5 nm.
A sunnier day with much wind. Salty shower sprays to wake us up from the peaceful revery of this wind powered journey over the Baltic waters.
Falling silent and wondering how being on the water so near the surface connects to the idea of empathy for the "Waterworld"?
Laying with head over the edge of Godzilla, the upside down perspective of sky and sea reversing made me think of flying not sailing.
Seeing the sea vast and clearly powerful.
Hard to imagine it in danger.
(See photo 6)
Day 2: Tested the sonar recording setup on Godzilla. Everything is working including power (Andy was able to wire in the device). We even had a sonar image of the bottom of the harbor in Katajanokka.
(See photos 7 & 8)
Andrew Gryf Paterson
So the working (tues)day really begins #ImaginingGodzilla. Artists climb onboard, and we cruise out of the Katajanokka-Kruununhaka harbour area. The waves, the wind, the sun, the sailor-media / sea-sound / monster-word / brackish-waste catch o the day begins..
(See photo 9)
To me, the challenge was to film on demanding circumstances where everything is on the move. You don’t always see the screen of the camera because of the bright light so I had to adjust the shutter speed and aperture constantly.
(See photo 10)
I connected more with the visual poetics of the sea. The ever changing surface, self-creating textures, it’s a beautiful fluid sculpture. The curvy waves are not very far from the curvy lines in the desert sand dunes.
(See photo 11)
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WEDNESDAY, August 21, 2019
Cancelled Tivon drone flying due to Putin visit; strict restrictions on all flying.
11.25 Moored at Pihlajasaari, Eva is very enthusiastically trying diving with the wetsuit. 60° 08,43 N, 24° 55,0 E.
17.00 Back to harbor. Bugged by military boats, helicopter overhead. Nice relaxing day but everyone got a lot done.
14.04. We had to adjust the programme slightly due to Putin's visit. There's a temporary no-flight zone including all unmanned airplanes and drones. The area extends far to the west towards Porkkala, east to Porvoo and south to the edge of thw national sea area. Thus the drone flying project by Tivon Rice could not be carried out today. We try to carry it out tomorrow instead. We are now in Pihlajasaari working with artists' projects. Collecting sound samples from the water and the island. Eva is working in her underwater poetry. Gary is crocheting his dress for the perfomance.
Till exploring in the dingy. Godzilla is like the mother ship and we are scrambling off in different directions to explore the nearby coast and island of Pihlajasaari.
A gentle day relative to Monday and Tuesday. A day full of more on board conversations and exchanges of ideas and practical knowledge too.
Was exciting to get into the Baltic waters with the Selkie Skin on.
(See photos 12 [by Till Bovermann] & 13 [View from Godzilla at the end of the day. Beautiful place to spend the night.])
Day 3: Reading instructions to operate the device. Planning the routes for sailing Thursday morning.
Andrew Gryf Paterson
We'll get back on land as Putin arrives in the centre it seems. Today (day3) has been an easygoing one, docked most of the day on Pihlajasaari, where we lunched, swam, floated, chatted, recorded, and rowed into our own creative investigations #ImaginingGodzilla. It has been lovely.. Now we are drifting back to realities, securities, and grand geopolitical diplomacies xx
(See photos 14 & 15)
I have shifted my practice on the catamaran thanks to the fact that I've been given some underwater recording devices. I started recording today, in two different places, an underwater sound poetry piece called Underwater Godzilla. I will go on recording the poetry in other places, underwater. The work is coming out extremely weird and sometimes hilarious. I am happy to push the boundaries of what sound poetry can be.
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THURSDAY, August 22, 2019
Log not kept today! Left harbour 10.15. Started with tracking cables for Samir in Helsinki harbour. Didn’t really see any evidence of cables on the seabed, but who knows. Around 12.00 started working with Tivon + his drone. Succesful flightover rocks in the harbour. Then motored to Espoo/Hki border + found a few good small islands. Problem is very strong wind. While taking of for third flight Tivon caught the drone + cut his finger badly. Motored to Svinö to get more fuel, while at the laituri Tivon did two flights to record islands nearby. Seems to be going well despite continuing strong wind. Time is now 15.45. Will sail back to Helsinki.
Trip 21,4 nm!
Due to strongish winds not possible to fly sails at marina so sail projections postponed.
I got idea for sail projections almost 20 years ago when we had sailboat and I was also doing visual projects. In my life I have sailed and raced with sailboats so that world is pretty familiar.
The ultimate dream was to sail close to city projecting onto sails so people on land could see. Sailing dowmwind and projecting to transparent spinnaker, on sidewind on frontsails jib or genoa or to mainsail. That's a bit complicated as Godzilla might be cumbersone to handle in narrow places when windy. Another problem is wind usually blows from seaside so should have transparent sails. At marina it might be easier for people on land to see and smaller sail would be enough. On typical calm summer night after sunset that should be easilly possible.
I have made visuals at different places so have some video material and idea was to just experiment with sails with videos I have and maybe use some "almost live" video material of water, sky etc. And test some impact messages. But from subconsiousnes came idea of wind visualisations so main idea became to project wind prediction animations.
(See photos 16 [imaginary pic of projection] & 17 [still image from video])
A sunny but windy day. The sonar works well. We were able to scan the seabed along cable lines marked on the charts. From the inner harbor we cruised at 3-4 knots per hour, a slow speed with motors running, the ideal speed to conduct side-scan sonar readings. Sadly, the seabed is quite empty of obstructions, or wrecks, as around the harbor the sea is continuously dredged. We did spot occasionally, a submarine cable line or a pipeline, the ruins of an old jetty in Suomenlinna and vast schools of fish. Plenty of cable landings were documented. I consider today’s trip as a learning experience (reading instruction manuals) to handle the sonar rig, the interface of the device and methods (thanks to Andy - the speed, approach, maneuvering the catamaran) to sail along cable lines.
(See photos 18, 19 & 20)
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FRIDAY, August 23, 2019
Delayed departure due to heavy rain + thunder. Plan to meet at 12.00.
13.12. Tie to bay on south side of Laajasalo. 60°09,7N 25°01,0E.
Tahvonlahti. Nice sheltered bay with two small yacht harbours / piers + one large sunken house boat.
14.45. Moored at Hevossalmi just past swing bridge.
60°09,5N 25°03,45E. VERY windy! Tivon managed to do a photoshoot of Lehmäsaari but ran into GPS exclusion zone around Santahamina.
15.00. Passed back through Hevossalmi swing bridge - there is NOT much room for error here! Head to Vallisaari to check underwater cables for Samir. On way he does “see” one past of what he thinks is a pipeline going to Santahamina.
Around 16.00 arrive back at harbour.
SHORT ARTIST BIOS
[list will be updated]
Pekka Niskanen is a media artist, video and filmmaker. Mohamed Sleiman Labat uses art and literature to create cross-generational art experiences, aiming to inspire young people to see creative potential in their surroundings, to promote storytelling and the conservation of Sahrawi oral history, and to help develop versatile skills through creative practice. Together on the vessel Pekka and Mohamed will be observing the algae and eutrophication in Baltic Sea. They will be using cameras and underwater microphones. The material found will be used in a PhosFATE film and video installation. There will be a focus on food, bringing people together to connect and learn about the story of phosphate and it's significance in both Europe and Northern Africa.
"The exhaustion and processing of finite resources such as phosphate is leading to some terrible consequences on humans as well as on the environment. Man-made phosphate processing from agricultural activities ends up in the Baltic Sea in big loads, and is creating eutrophication; one of the biggest problems in the Baltic Sea. Thousands of miles away, a huge source of phosphate rock is located in the desert in the Northern west part of Africa and is causing the dislocation of a Nomadic community."
Petra Martinez is a community-engaged and environmentally conscious creative practitioner. In the Godzilla vessel Petra's focus will be on finding new ways to interact with her immediate environment. Petra will be tracking the blue algae blooms with kite camera (DIY drone) and gps, taking samples of cyanobacteria (if found), making microscopic slides and testing the ability to dye organic fibre with any collected material.
Simo Rouhiainen (FI) will be working with video projection experimenting with the ability to project onto the sails of Godzilla. This will be a development and continuation of a mobile projection system made for a bicycle. Simo will be playing with the possibilities of digital interactions taking into consideration the combination of analogue and digital motion.
Lauri Hyvärinen is a musician and curator based in Helsinki. During the week, Lauri will be working with sound, experimental music and performance. The project will take into consideration the site-specific properties of the vessel as well as the surrounding nature. Whilst on Godzilla Lauri may consider silence, background noise and aspects of spatial and acoustics but still allowing intuitive response and experimentation to direct his work.
Samir Bhowmik's multi-disciplinary art practice deals with contemporary issues in New Media, Cultural Memory and the Environment. His artistic research at Aalto Media Lab and the Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin examines the architectural, infrastructural and energetic entanglements of Cultural Memory. During the week, Samir will experiment with Godzilla as an undersea infrastructure and surveying platform for artistic production. The project will use underwater mapping technologies (such as side-scan sonar) to map the Baltic seabed following the laying route of submarine cables in the Helsinki archipelago. Samir will be mapping the flows and infrastructures that are not visible to public eye.
"Keeping one’s data in the cloud entails an increasing reliance on undersea cables, and thus users are entangled in geographies that are invisible. Analysing the undersea network as media infrastructures draws our attention to the ways that the seemingly immaterial digital flows are anchored in material coordinates and biological strata. The project is an exploration into these dilemmas."
Eva Macali (ITL) is a visual artist dealing with media arts, new media interaction, art performance, social media, self shaping, personal and group identity. Eva will be working collaboratively people and places locally in Helsinki. She will be responding to the sounds made on the boats, the natural elements: water and wind using this as a starting point for her performance works to evolve and perhaps become mobile concerts.
Till Bovermann studied and worked at Bielefeld University where he received a PhD for his work on Tangible Auditory Interfaces. He is currently working between Berlin and Helsinki. Till's work addresses the relationship of contradictory elements such as urban/nature, digital/physical and algorithm/behaviour.
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[Cover photo by Andrew Gryf Paterson]