Domestic Sub-mariner

I’ve always been into submarines and ships, and basically anything that is big, metallic and man-made with an engine. From my grade C in physics and the realisation that ‘I ain’t no Einstein’, I allowed my working life to direct my interests. Two of my early career choices were apprentice mechanic and HGV driver, where I viewed myself as a practical pioneer of women’s rights to work in jobs that were at that time, mainly dominated by men. However, through time and the responsibilities of motherhood, I have had to accept a quieter more domestic role in life, a role which has also undoubtedly influenced my research interests.

Two years ago I started religiously throwing myself in the local harbour every Sunday. To me, this experience seemed the next step in my explorations into an age-old concept called the sublime, an experience that is just as real today as it ever was; the language used to describe it perhaps tainted by misunderstanding, over use and the historically bourgeois connotations that it has been given. Being a swimmer who is scared of the open-water, this ritual ducking, gave me a taste of the classic pleasure/fear dichotomy that is characteristic of the initial philosophies of the sublime; the depths of the water a symbol of the unknown, one of the last natural places on earth that lies undiscovered.

Swimming on the threshold of these two worlds, my interests move back to their roots and to machines that can partially navigate through this terrain, the deep water providing the only place on the planet where a large man-made vehicle can lie absolutely undetected. There is something of the sublime in this notion of stealth; the unknown and the uncertainty of detection, the way a body or thing can be rendered invisible to certain agents and visible to others by covering or coating with certain chemicals or substances. Taking this idea into a domestic context, I can by painting my wallpaper with nickel paint, become invisible to radio and microwave radiation, my own submarine in a sea of electromagnetic noise; a negative space, an absence, a hole in which I can hide.

I take my first open-water sub-aqua dive in Loch Fynne, Scotland in November.