23 April 2024, reflection at the start of the last day of work at Queen Mary
(supported by Queen Mary University Centre for Creative Collaboration)

Because we had 5 days in the BLOC cinema rooms we were able to take advantage of projecting some video work. This inspired us to compose a video background to project behind our performance material. With a digital microscope camera we projected close-ups of bits of shell and coral collected on the beach. We turned ourselves into layers of kelp waving in flows of water. In this way we saw ourselves part rock concert audience, part seaweed swaying.

We got across the space with a video eye watching, we used various difficult ways to get across the space — lumpy and slow. Have we found something? Maybe.

In the deep sea it is cold and under heavy pressure — the lumpy space crawling and tumbling, the awkward ways of going forward should probably take a snail trail across the floor rather than a straight line. Is this merely a walk in the park or a parade? where are we going?

It somehow feels like puffs of activity and the demonstration of currents or flow — do the individuals of the moving clusters sing? or talk? Can we tell a story? Why would we? Thus far we have some songs and statements beginning with “for those who”. Are there other words and if so what is the point of them? And what is the style?

We visited laboratories in the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at Queen Mary. We met with Chema Martín-Durán and asked simple questions. With Chema we looked at worms (with our eyes only and through a microscope) and heard about laboratory practices — in the clean lab they wear white coats, in the dirty lab they wear blue coats (this helps signal when someone walks into the wrong lab), in the lab where organisms are growing don’t use cleaning solutions as it will kill the organisms the researchers are trying to grow. Each lab has a hum of machines. Sometimes you want to whirl some around very fast, there’s a machine for that. The starfish are in water-filled plastic boxes. Is it always dark in there? Cold rooms, spiral cleavage, radial cleavage. Our minds were boggled. Our questions made clear how little we know about elementary biological forms, sometimes Chema had to draw diagrams for us. (What is spiral cleavage?) (What’s the difference between a molecule and an atom?).

It was amazing to speak with Chema who was very patient with us and generous with his time. We send gratitude for this.

Notes from a development residency for the project Skywater, Facewater, Underwater Waltz.