Cromarty Lighthouse artworks explore parallels between marine mammal and human senses

By Ben Miller | 03 September 2012
a photo of steel towers emerging from a blue mist
A still from Stephen Hurrel’s film Dead Reckoning
Installation Preview: Sublime, Cromarty Lighthouse and Boat Shed, Inverness, September 1-9 2012

At the front of an old lighthouse each evening, Stephen Hurrel and Mark Lyken’s composition will trigger water to move, in turn activating projected rings of light inside the interior of the light room.

A recreation of the otoliths which allow us to function and balance, this aqua-marine light show is embellished with time-lapse footage from the sea, and it’s part of an exhibition which also includes a visual and sound journey through monuments to industry, energy and leisure.

It’s partly presented within a Boat Shed and a Field Station often used by the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, who are partners in this depth-plumbingly experimental investigation, much of which revolves around the bottlenose dolphins swimming the oceans beneath.

Working with scientists, Hurrel and Lyken have tried to define how our physical spaces affect patterns of human and dolphin behaviour. In the case of Lyken – a sound artist whose audio contribution is being simultaneously released as an iTunes EP, The Terrestrial Sea – it results in four sound movements: Dry Sea, Wetland, Sea State Three and Scar History.

Their effects summon the distorted sounds of pile driving, ferries and mammals moving, looped one after the other, set within a physical installation allowing viewers to submerge their hands in seawater.

Hurrel is a film artist adept at tapping into the seemingly invisible parts of our environment, most recently turning tectonic plate movements into an audio-visual experience at San Francisco’s Soundwave Festival, as well as accompanying research scientists to the Outer Hebrides.

Dead Reckoning, in the Boat Shed, takes advantage of old techniques which combined previous positions and speed charting to determine exact locations.

And in the light room, Resonator adds to the sense of spookiness with the sounds of the space resonating as the wind gusts through it.

  • Exhibition runs 12pm-8pm, installation 8pm-9pm. Admission free.
a record sleeve design with abstract colours made from a movie still
Cover image of Lyken’s EP The Terrestrial Sea

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