Topologies of Air – Ruith Na Gaoithe. Shona Illingworth residency at Taigh Chearsabhagh

Symposium/event November 2013

Shona Illingworth, Balnakiel 2009. Digital video still commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella

‘…the act of envisioning an object or an action in terms of an ecology or lifecycle (whether in a banal commercial sense or within a creative research project) ultimately challenges the classification of that object as a product.’
Jill Bennett, Living in the Anthropocene, 2011

Shona’s project for the Cape Farewell Sea Change project will explore the ecological, cultural, social and historical perception and understanding of wind and air, and in particular – atmospheric pressure and the north Atlantic weather systems, which affect the Outer Hebrides, producing some of the most changeable weather in the world.

This exploration will be set in the context of the proposed development of the Outer Hebrides as a major ‘eco – energy’ producer, and the identification of its wind and wave energy resources as major assets in the long-term future of the islands. The transformation of these natural phenomena into an economic resource and the impact this has on the cultural, social and perceptual mapping of the Outer Hebrides will be explored through the development of an ongoing multilayered spatial mapping of place where cultural, social, economic and scientific languages, stories, songs, poetry and mapping processes intersect.

Shona is currently developing a short film which aims to create an evocative ‘interweaving’ of the languages of: science; economics; technology; history; culture (in both Gaelic and English); story telling and human experience to capture the illusive and continually changing meaning, quality and tenor of wind and weather – its constantly concentrating and dissipating energies forming the underlying structure of the work.
She is also working on an artist publication will aim to express tensions and dynamic interplays between these different mappings and situate them within debates precipitated by the identification of the Anthropocene, – the name for a geological age of our own making – and new ecologies of thought, action and debate that are emerging as a result.

As part of her research, Shona is very interested in looking at and discussing a diverse range of maps, charts and/or diagrams of the Outer Hebrides and surrounding coastal waters and seas, both current and historical, such as mappings of: changing population densities; migration of birds; wind direction and speeds; coastal erosion; radar tracking; fish stocks; road building; walking routes; sea roads; geology; archaeology; marine biology; cultural geography; sheep stocks; agriculture; settlements; language and changing place names, and other materials such film clips, photographs and sound clips. Shona is also very interested in learning about stories, poems and songs in both Gaelic and English which relate to wind and air. She would be delighted to view and discuss any form of mapping of the islands, and/or stories, songs and poetry relating to wind and air and can be contacted via Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Art Centre.

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Sexy Peat

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