Artist in Residence - Dry Tortugas Islands, USA
A foundation dedicated to bringing world class arts to the National Parks is going to nearly maroon Australian Multimedia Artist Anna Glynn and her partner, Biologist, Art Worker and Curator Peter Dalmazzo for a month on a pristine isolated Florida key with its own old lighthouse. And it’s all for the sake of art.
Exploring the boundaries where art and science meet. In an interdisciplinary collaboration, Glynn and Dalmazzo will focus on collecting audio, photographs and video in the inspirational environment at Loggerhead Key, terrestrial and aquatic, in a variety of ecotypes, in nature and in human environments. These will evolve in response to the environment, reflecting the character of Loggerhead Key as a place, both in its harshness and its beauty, its complex and elegant natural rhythms and patterns over the course of thirty days.
Dry Tortugas National Park is located almost 70 miles (113 km) west of Key West. The 100-square mile park is mostly open water with seven small islands. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, the park is known the world over as the home of picturesque blue waters, superlative coral reefs and marine life, and the vast assortment of bird life that frequent the area.
"Great news is that we now have the generous support of Brinno USA who have provided us with two time-lapse cameras. These will be an invaluable tool that enhances our existing technology and helps us to capture the diversity of the changing environment of the island. A big thank you to Brinno!"
Here are some of my thoughts on the residency... How do I sum up a month on a remote tropical island? So much happened…
It required well planned logistics to get there from Australia and to carry what we needed from here, and then in USA to get provisions to last us the month on the island. We had to try and think of everything we might need and then to calculate what we would eat and also think what would last….romaine lettuce lasted 3 weeks before starting to collapse! Our last week we ended up with cabbage and carrots and lots of tinned and dried food.
Our accommodation on the island was in the lighthouse keepers cottage (slightly haunted too!) and we had room to spread out and have all our gear on hand ready to run and shoot or record with it if need be. We had 3 Brinno TLC200 Pro HDR Cameras running 24 hours a day somewhere on the island. We needed that many to stay on top of things happening around the island. So we collected lots of time lapse footage – some very exciting. Some of the best bits were from in the lighthouse and especially in the glassed in top of it. This was a lucky opportunity to shoot some footage in this location before they put a new light in it in 2016. The cameras generally were in the acrylic housing because they were left out in some pretty harsh weather conditions. I had to rig up some makeshift contraptions to secure them on the window ledge of the lighthouse windows – they were tied to bricks, tied to broken garden shears and lots of strong string and knots. They were bombarded in storms and all the time were in very hot conditions – as were we. Our favourite daily ritual was to spend some time in the water under the jetty in some shade…when we first arrived the water was as hot as the air.
There were few visitors to the island although on our second morning we awoke to a knock on the door and there were two young men – one who could speak a little English – we realised they were from Cuba and we said “welcome to America”. They then took us to meet the other twenty six people in their party – some women and small children too. We got to spend a few hours with them trying to communicate, we gave them water, milk for the children and I gave a clean pair of my underpants to one woman who asked for them! We tried to explain we were Australian and mimed a kangaroo…laughter ensued! I also got Peter to sing a Cuban song…! It made me think of the island as an important place over time where lives are changed in many ways, migrants, shipwrecks etc. A speck in the ocean that has attracted many creatures both human and animal.
The second week we were there a storm came through and with it came a mass of small birds….warblers etc., migrating south. It was like the set of a Disneyland film. Two days later the predatory birds arrived and the island turned into what I called the ‘Raptor Restaurant”. There were peregrines, kestrels etc. all coming to dine on the small birds….carnage….nature…tooth and claw!
We shot a lot of footage with the cameras above and below water but the magic of the Brinno time lapse was my favourite…the hit and miss nature of it too is part of the charm…filming and not knowing what you were going to get…would a fabulous storm blow by… would birds land in shot…would lightning strike…? One of my favourite aspects was going through the time lapse footage and extracting stills – e.g. peregrines in the top of the lighthouse as seen in the image above.
I am continuing to work with all the collected material and experiment with the video and sound to create something that captures the essence of the island…stay tuned for more to come!