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BEAF TAKEOVER ROYAL ARCADE : EMILY HAWES
June 26, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - July 4, 2021 @ 6:00 pm
ROYAL ARCADE : UNIT 9
EMILY HAWES : A FIN RISING ON A WIDE BLANK SEA
An installation of moving image, sound and sculpture, that weaves together themes of local history, bioacoustics, marine ecologies and storytelling.
In her 1988 short essay The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction, Ursula K le Guin refutes the dominant narrative that the first human cultural device or technology was the spear or axe, used for ‘sticking, bashing and killing’. Rather, she argues, civilisation began with the humble receptacle or container – leaves, gourds, shells, net bags, slings or sacks, were used to gather, transport and hold nuts, berries, seeds, roots, shoots and leaves, and other life sustaining nutrients. Le Guin explains: ‘If you haven’t got something to put it in, food will escape you’, and as the tool which ‘brings energy home’, the carrier bag is the untold origin story of culture, technology and civilisation.
Unlike the spear (which follows a linear trajectory towards its target), Le Guin’s carrier bag is vast and messy; a ‘womb of things’ and ‘a bag of stars’. Le Guin draws our attention to the fact that the form of the novel, mirrors the function of the sling or sack, she explains; ‘A book holds words. Words hold things. They bear meanings. A novel is a medicine bundle, holding things in a particular, powerful relation to one another and to us.’ For le Guin, stories, and in particular science fiction stories, have a generative potential to redefine, reimagine and reconfigure how we understand the world around us.
– Le Guin, U. The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction (1988, 2019), Ignota Books
The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction acts as the departure point for ‘A rising fin on a wide blank sea’ which seeks to re-imagine the story of a 70ft long, 40 tonne blue whale, which was fatally wounded and washed ashore with the ebb and flow of the tide in Boscombe in 1897.
The film begins by documenting the process of reconstructing a fragment of the jawbone, using 3d rendering technologies. Once printed, the replica becomes the protagonist of the film, akin to a digitalised, yet fossilised, carrier bag-of-sorts. Existing somewhere between digital spectre and archaeological tool, the blue whale jawbone is the storyteller for our post-human time(s). Roaming the watery depths, this sentient spectre weaves together a narrative around the whale in mythology, underwater inter-species relations and investigates broader stories in relation to human created stresses and sonic violence within ocean ecologies.