at low tide is a collaborative, multimedia project by John Sturgeon and Christina Nguyen Hung that was created for the das Wattenmeer (Wadden Sea), an exhibition at Artothek in Oldenburg, Germany coordinated by slap-social land art project. The artwork has two components: a computer display that allows gallery visitors to access the project website and two panoramic photographs placed together as one image that offer different views of the watt – one microscopic and the other highlights the surface of das watt.
The premise of the work “at low tide” is quite simple. In this artwork we challenge the one point perspective system, in use for hundreds of years, that has been used to transform land into landscape. The one point perspective system puts the human being at the center of the universe and all objects: animal, vegetable, mineral, mountain, desert, watt are organized around this central human axis. The organizing principle of “at low tide” is the multi-perspectival approach to image-making found in cartography, medieval painting and some panorama photography (NASA photos of the surface of the Mars). We used this multi-perspectival approach when we photographed the watt at two different scales. First, a 1 cm square sample of soil from the watt was photographed through a microscope. The other photograph represents a ten meter square area of the surface of the watt made with a standard digital SLR camera. We had to employ a certain amount of technology “bending” to create the images with these tools (microscope, camera & software), as these traditional technologies and optics reinforce the perspective of an individual human. Working against/with and around these individual human-centered interfaces, we created an images of the “place” that transforms our visual relationship to it.
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