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See, Sea

See, Sea is an installation work that has its starting point generating from a significant episode with water that I experienced at the age of five. At my Aunt's swimming pool, I took a step too deep and found myself underwater, drowning. In the moments I was under the water I remember it to be a calm, joyous sensation. My Mother pulled me out, and saved me. From that moment on, I have had an extraordinary relation with water wanting to stay within it for as long as I could. This has developed into a meditative and positive relationship with the sea and with the activity of swimming.

The work unpicks the essence of the sensation of the activity of my personal ritual with water, with the sea. It combines moving image, still image, objects, and live performance orchestrated into a whole. The installation is viewed not as a fixed object, but rather as an event, to be experienced in dialogue with the viewer's senses. The usage of both ritual and image become a trigger into the memory landscape.

There are four assemblages that make up the work: Film 1, Film 2, the Grid, and the Blanket/wave (see attached list for a breakdown of each assemblage). The work can be exhibited with all elements, or possibly in varied deconstructed forms.

The installation ideally is presented in a durational manner, allowing time to accumulate images revealed within the performance and both films looping within their 15-minute time frame.

Film of live installation/event

Film 1

Film 2

The work was first shown at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, MA Showcase 11th July 2013 in London, UK. The films within the work have been further exhibited at HangArtFEST in Pesaro/IT 2013 and SBAM in Candelara/IT 2013, both with dancer Masako Matsushita performing a live physical response. The films have also been shown at FRAME in Porto/PT 2013, ATA Gallery in San Francisco 2014 and was part of the Waterwheel online symposium in March 2014.

A succinct description of each of the assemblages within the whole of the installation follows:

Film 1

This film is in a 15-minute loop hanging in a vertical plane near the left back wall of the studio, 260 cm width X 162.5 cm height. The dancer/performer appears within a domestic environment that triggers memories of swimming in the sea. This scenario is framed through images of ritualized activities.

Film 2

This film is in a 15-minute loop hanging vertically mid-right spatially in the studio, 180 cm width X 112.5 cm height. I am the body in a sea environment. My personal ritual of swimming is revealed in this film, exposing only the water, body, and sky.

The Grid

This part of the installation could be viewed as a corridor, a lap pool. It is near the entrance of the studio spanning almost the full width of the space. To the right is a water tank (91 cm in length), filled ¾ with water along with 200 sheets of watercolour paper concealing images that have gone through a cyanotype process.[1] To the left is a hanging aluminum grid, with threads of fishing wire on which hang 100 metal clips. Linking the elements and forming this corridor/lap pool is a dark grey strip of plastic marley flooring, 1 m width X 8 m length. The dancer/performer, Irina Baldini, performers her ritual of washing the watercolour paper to reveal the past sea images, the cyanotype process altering them to a cyan-blue colour, and then hanging them to dry, one by one, on the grid.

The Blanket/wave

The Blanket/wave is made up of 200 acetate black and white negative images, all of past photographic stills of various seas that I have swum in. They are strung together by black plastic attachments, woven as a quilt, yet flowing and suspending like a wave. All of these were used within the cyanotype process as the images were 'cooked' onto the chemical solution.


[1] A photographic process that was used on all still photo images of the sea within the installation, yielding a cyan-blue print. In this work, the original image is converted to a black and white negative on acetate. The cyanotype solution ofAmmonium iron(III) citrate and Potassium ferricyanide are brushed onto watercolour paper and dried. The negative image is then cooked onto the paper by UV light. The original image disappears and only reappears in cyan-blue when exposed in sunlight or by agitation in water.

Susan Sentler is an Independent Dance Artist having taught as Senior Lecturer with Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Susan's practice focuses on image/imagery and site specific/gallery contexts exploring the body, objects, sound, moving and still image. Her films and installations have been exhibited at Trinity Laban London/UK, Decoda Coventry/UK, HangartFest Pesaro/IT, SBAM Candelara/IT, Museo del Tessuto Prato/IT, AWA Gallery Overtoom 301 Amsterdam/NL, FRAME Porto/PT, ATA Gallery San Francisco/CA, Light Moves Limerick/IE, and for Waterwheel 2014. In 2013 Susan earned a Masters in Creative Practice, professional practice pathway, awarded by Trinity Laban in collaboration with Independent Dance in London.