Making Us

Making Us is a network of interactive installations commissioned by Contains Art and Lumen Art Projects for the harbour town of Watchet, Somerset, summer 2019.  The artworks investigate the intertwined and sometimes confrontational relationships between us humans, technology and nature, in particular, these relationships in Watchet’s industrial heritage, contemporary life and biotech futures.

Bringing the installations into everyday life of the town, the chosen sites were a pub, a hardware shop, an estate agent’s, a fish and chip shop, and some shipping containers on the harbour front.  Each of the five sites explores a sub-theme, progressing through historical points in time: technologies of fear and security; channelling nature; material transformations; nature and artifice; beyond the human.

In each installation’s digital display (some large projections, some smaller-scale screens) multiple layers of video are hidden or exposed, following the forms of the audience as they move within the installation’s range, using the xBox’s Kinect sensor to pick up interactions.  The video layers were captured on location in Watchet, at various scales in time and space (micro, macro, time-lapse, real-time).  The audience find themselves transformed in substance and scale: swirling paper pulp, cracking mud, clanking machinery, peat, salt, bubbling water, metal, fire, wood, lichen-colonised concrete, robotic creatures, rust, vegetation, fungal mycelia.  Popular games technologies, including Minecraft, are used for some of the footage - a play between simulated, digital and actual materiality.  Superimposed are fragments of text - drawn from related technical, marketing and tourism web sites.  The text appears at random moments, to resolve, reinforce or redirect meaning of the visual content.

Five interactive installations, programmed in C++/openFrameworks, using Kinect sensor, video and sound.

Dimensions for each installation variable from 3mx4mx2.5m to 1mx1mx1m.

Additional video credits: Wansbrough Mill by Alison Jacobs, Minecraft sequences by Jack Kingdon.

Special thanks to Jon Barrett at Contains Art and Jack Addis at Lumen Art Projects.

Making Us #3: Material Transformations, multi-channel installation in shipping container on Watchet East Harbour

Still from video by Jesse Roth about the project

Making Us #2: Channelling Nature

lnteractive projected installation inside shipping container on Watchet East Harbour


Installation photos by Jon Barrett and stills from installations