Depictions of darkness

See the responses

Artist Tim Shaw invited contributions from the public to enable him to create a new visual and sonic installation at Sanctuary 2017.

In September, artists brought new and experimental work to a 24 hour event in a remote, beautiful landscape in South West Scotland. Sanctuary 2017 was a free public art event that explored darkness and our ever changing relationship with technology. It took place in the Galloway Forest Dark Skies Park, a dark site with no internet connection and no phone signal, offering a rare escape from communication technology.

One of the Sanctuary artists, Tim Shaw, invited contributions from the public via the REACH portal, to enable him to create new visual and sonic installations and performances specifically for the event.

Contributions to the artwork

Tim invited the public to send images, audio files and video clips on the themes of remoteness, darkness and quietness and issued three challenges:

  • Document darkness
  • Record remoteness
  • Send silence

Responses could be sent via the portal or via Twitter using #ReachDarknes #ReachRemoteness or #ReachSilence.

At Sanctuary, Tim set up two short-range radio masts with screens attached and transmitted images via radio waves across the Dark Skies Park. People’s submitted images of darkness were transmitted from tower to tower, across the site, turning into sound as they left the first tower and become images once again as they reached the other tower. As they made the journey from tower to tower, the images were affected and distorted by all kinds of natural interference – the temperature and humidity at the site, the chosen broadcasting frequency and the ambient sound of the Park. These effects became clear as the image appeared on the receiving radio tower screen.

Tim Shaw said:

“I am interested in experimenting with communication and connectivity, in order to explore darkness and the idea that a break from technology is one way of ‘going dark’. Sanctuary is firmly off-grid. Some of us rely heavily on infrastructures like the internet; this work is a little glimpse into other forms of communication technologies. I am interested in natural distortion, relying on the precarious nature of radio as a creative medium for affecting and altering all sorts of material. While I have an idea in my head of how things will turn out, the final piece of artwork is completely reliant on the different types of material that I am sent between now and the start of the event.”

Taking place at the Galloway Forest Dark Skies Park, Sanctuary 2017 was a unique 24-hour public event. A free art laboratory, with installations, talks and workshops, the festival began in 2013 as a place for off-grid experimentation in sound, radio, video and performance.

Images of remoteness for Reach at Sanctuary 2017
Going Dark, Tim Shaw

The Galloway Dark Skies Park is a specially designated area that is low in light pollution. Remote, beautiful and ‘electronically dark’, It is a sanctuary from both light pollution and world-wide connectedness. Sanctuary explored darkness and light with installations and performance, using both visible and non- visible elements of the light spectrum. Sanctuary Lab is an experimental space to investigate ideas about our relationship with technology, amid a landscape beyond the networks’ reach.

Sanctuary took place from 12 noon 23 September until 12 noon Sunday 24 September, 2017.