LOST in low light

Taking up a great invitation to show my Climate Action exhibition L O S T as a part of the Portobello ArtWalk 2022 this month, I had the opportunity to install my #LitterCUBES within the historic Portobello Brick Kiln, set back from the seafront and the sandy beach where I’ve collected hundreds of washed up cotton bud-sticks, that went into the making of two of the smallest#LitterCUBES.

Working in alternative spaces such as the kiln, rather than in a gallery is always exciting and challenging.

The kiln’s small 5m diameter floor space was a logistic challenge in which to show the 18 CUBES, a projection screen and information. My chosen plan had #LitterCUBE 1 (drinks bottles) positioned in the centre of the kiln, with the other 7 largest CUBES set behind this CUBE around the wall directly behind it, ensuring space for visitors to move around the kiln.

The screen, being set above these CUBES and opposite the entrance, allowed passers-by to glimpse a view of the work and to cast a little light onto the CUBES.

By far the largest challenge was how to light the work well, in a space off-grid, that only has two restricted natural light sources, the chimney and doorway.

The chimney channelled a limited amount of light into the centre within a very small radius. The light, entering through the doorway, was extremely variable during the day. Often the space was very dark in the morning and then blasted with light in the early afternoon if the sun was bright.

I originally planned to use low wattage spot lights running off a 12v battery, but testing out the spots, the light gain was limited and the cabling was distracting and couldn’t be hidden.

After much discussion with the ArtWalk team who had seen work in the kiln before, I decided to embrace the low light, but to supplement it at significant points, using photographic lights and torches to highlight the work. Part of the lighting solution also came from the visitors using their phone torches, plus my LED solar and wind-up torches. This minimal battery-operated lighting worked amazingly well and kept the very special atmosphere of the kiln as a part of the visitors’ experience.

Wonderfully, over 200 people visited the exhibition over the two event days, 20 people managed to fit into the kiln to hear me sharing the journey of making the #LitterCUBES, and calculating the energy value held within the 18 #LitterCUBES using the ‘Embodied Energy content’ formula – 250 litres of oil.  We went on to discuss how we are now (at last) getting more conscious of the importance and need to take #ClimateActions. Primarily to reduce the energy we use and how to do this we need to quantify the amount of energy that we use and waste.  Also, our discussion made me want to try calculating the energy used in showing this collection of work over the 2 days, especially given the exhibition aim to show the energy LOST in plastic waste.

It is a calculation, which wasn’t feasible when showing the work in the large arts centre of Eden Court, Inverness, but it is a question that I am increasingly conscious and concerned about. With the help of friend and scientist John McIntyre we have calculated the Energy used in the Kiln during the 2day event to be: Total energy use 0.326 kWh

Below is our simple energy sum, with each item running for a total of 12hours

Mini projector used over 2 days 150 Wh                                                                                        

Photographic lights used over 2 days 150 Wh                                                                               

LED torches (1) used 6 AA batteries in two days. So 6 x 3.12 = 18.72 Wh                                 

LED torches (3) used 9 AAA batteries in two days. So6 x 1.2 = 7.2 Wh                                  
Total Watt Hours (Wh) used 150 + 150 + 18.72 + 7.2 =  326 Wh

Total                                                           0.362 KWh

The equivalent of boiling just over 3.5 litres of water in an electric kettle.

The LOST exhibition is ready to be shown on or Off-Grid. Please help keep the #ClimateAction conversation going by sharing this post and getting in touch with any ideas of where LOST could be shown on or Off-Grid. I am happy to give talks about the project and run related events.

Many thanks for the support of Rosy Naylor, ArtWalk curator, additional photographs from Susan Grant and Ellie J McMaster and photo-editing by Veronica Vossen.

#OffGrid #ArtWalk #Portobello #Sustainability #LOST #ClimateAction #ArtWalk2022 #ClimateEmergency #ArtWalk #ArtistPractice #Installation #ContemporaryArt #Scotland #CreativeCarbonScotland #ThePebbleTrust #BeatPlasticPollution