Nature of Truth. 

A Commission for the exhibition Perfect Nature. Amstelpark, Amsterdam.
Supported by zone2source and Mondriaan Funds. April 22nd – 19th June 2022

Nature of Truth’ was a newly commissioned work made with support from artist and researcher Neal White. It linked the depiction of nature in the history of the scientific atlas, with the decline in insect populations and moths in Holland and UK. This decline is also linked to light pollution which is very high in countries like the UK and Holland. Light in this work becomes both metaphor and is used as a material in the form of the installation expanded sound and light environment. The video piece situates the viewer within a deeper understanding of what constitutes knowing of species decline, and the actual shared visual ecology with more-than-human actors as an approach that is attentive to the idea of cohabitation and coevolutionary politics.  

The video was made from samples of extinct, near extinct, disappeared or newly arrived Moths in Amsterdam that were sourced as images from the Natural History Museum Collections online.

The work was produced both in advance and during the installation of the exhibition Perfect Nature (See below), which Tina O’Connell co-organised with Neal White, and Alice Smits of zone2source.

Workshops with participating artists and a final research presentation took place during the exhibition period.

The commissioned work consisted of a surround soundscape, 10 min HD Single Channel Video.

Video Element: A sequence of still images make up the video. Some of the images were made using a method of drawing into canvas using a technique called tufting using luminous wool – that was made more vivid using UCV light. The embroidered images of the moths were then captured photographically and shown in a sequence alongside photographic records of recently discovered moths in Holland (due to climate changes impacting migration). The final images in video are stills taken on location in Amstelpark,  with each image painted with light using a technique we have been developing over many years. It is a form of light painting, a process that requires low level light and an open shutter to capture images created by special instruments. The spectres of moth appear only in the sensor of the camera. They are not visible to the human eye without this process of capture. 

The video uses a soundtrack made from audio recorded of bats as they hunt out moths in the darkness. Slowed down and integrated further with other sounds, they were used to create light based interactions in the space. At might, the work is animated for the occupants of the park, long after the human visitors have left.

Sound and light elements: An accompanying site-specific video and light/soundscape was made from audio field recordings of bat species found in and around the park as they hunt down moths. Slowed down and remixed with a range of other nocturnal insects, the light-based soundscape also interrupts the viewers experience of the video work presented in the black box of the projection space.

Image above: Workshop with Public to promote through social media the protection of moths and other nocturnal habitats.

Installation of the exhibition Perfect Nature

Thanks and Credits 

The artists would like to thank ArtLab at Reading University who provided materials and resources for the ongoing research. Office of Experiments, Erik Kearney and Bill Thompson for their work developing the dynamic light based system used in the work.