Performing Mersea Island: Out of Place

6 Jul-16 Jul 2023

A.P.T. Gallery
London SE8 4SA


Artist group Sensingsite asks “how do we really know a place?”. The group brings their collective, material and sensory responses to Mersea Island, in the outer reaches of the Thames estuary, into the APT Gallery space, alongside Deptford Creek, connecting these radically different tidal locations.

Low-lying and vulnerable, the effects of climate change and sea level rise on Mersea Island are already evident in a spectacular breach of the sea defences leading to a ‘managed realignment’. With their distinctive, experimental approach to research and production, the group’s work reflects on the dynamic unpredictability of the island landscape and by extension engages with an entropic sense of place. The fluctuating, unstable intertidal zones have been a focus of the group’s recent investigations. Unruly dialogue with changing terrains and currents is configured in the architectural site of the gallery as physical and ephemeral assemblages with varying powers of affect.

Initially restricted by the pandemic, the processes developed during lockdown remain key to the group’s methods. The initial use of Google Street View led to new techniques of media representation and ways to ‘perform’ the island ‘out of place’; online Miro whiteboards act as fluid, creative platforms for a more collaborative way to research, produce and fold back into physical encounters with the island. Tools and technologies used are extensions of the individual: human, imitative vocalisations integrate with non-human sounds; multi-camera recordings from phones attached to limbs convert bodies into instruments of sound and sight. Objects and images collide. As an animate, affective site Mersea Island becomes a drawing machine or a performing agency which is tapped into.

These enquiries, in part an interrogation of the term ‘landscape’, are re-employed in the APT Gallery space. Rather than an inert, stable and singular body of representation, landscape is presented as a process that is continually worked over. Diverse experiences, actions and materials produced by the group become continuously changing assemblages that rework what place might be.

Sensingsite’s sitework actively resists the framing of a single viewpoint or theoretical position, in favour of the potential for continuous intervention, engagement, and experimentation. In this exhibition, organisational aesthetics (the way we work together) unites psycho-mechanics and environmental dynamics - revealing the workings of internal and external worlds.

Sensingsite is an artist collective developing responses to the political, material, and sensory natures of site, place, and space. It takes critical, experimental, and improvisational approaches to practice and research methodologies, with a particular interest in non-linear and collaborative ways of knowing. The members of Sensingsite are Steven Ball (sound and moving image artist, academic, University of the Arts London), Ben Eastop (artist, public art commissioner), Tim Eastop (artist, creative producer), John Hartley (artist, arts producer), Pat Naldi (photographic and moving image artist, lecturer University of the Arts London), and Susan Trangmar (visual artist).

Sensingsite Website