Primarolia festival in Aigio, Greece, is an annual art festival that celebrates the 19th century boat journeys towards the ports of Europe, carrying Corinthian raisins - Greece’s “black gold”. This year’s theme was ‘Images of a Floating World’ (ukiyo-e), where the mobility and fluidity of everyday life get reinterpreted through the new reality of the 2020 pandemic.

Artist’s statement from 2020

In these pandemic days, the journeys that we once took for granted are being tested and rewritten. Having plotted the attic of the exhibition space through the feet of a remote walker, I assembled a photogrammetry model and took my own steps within the digitally transmitted space, which is now virtual but no less real. The installation evokes a new underwater interpretation of the building, and the three screens act as portals into this alternative-yet-familiar space, pierced by a long trailing ribbon drawing its own choreography. The serpentine writing of the digital trail can be seen by the mobile, peripatetic viewer as they perform their own perambulation around the screens, each one revealing a view of the virtual space between them.

About the process:

With the pandemic lockdown forbidding me to travel to Aigio in person, I was introduced to the building that houses the Primarolia festival through a set of screens: the curator and the artistic director led me via video calls through the old warehouse that once stored raisins, walking from the ground floor up to the attic. This room immediately captivated me, with its wooden and metal roof seeming like an upside-down ship hold. My original plan had been to perform a ‘camera-walk’ which allows me to process an area through a kind of procession, capturing the room in an immersive video, which I later rework into a photogrammetric model. Unable to be there, I passed the digital batton to Bill Psarras, who performed the ‘camera-walk’ for me and then sent me the material through digital transfer, hundreds of frames traveling over the sea - like images of a floating world (ukiyo-e) that the exhibition is named after.

The photogrammetric models that I extracted out of the material allowed me to walk the set, in VR and also through my computer screen in London. I reimagined the attic as a sunken ship or a flooded building, with tiny floating debris embodying the multiple travel trajectories that we have somehow left behind, next to the seaweed that has taken over. After exploring the entire photogrammetric attic through my computer screen, I placed within it digital cameras that recorded their view of the animation; the three resulting films were screened in television sets in the real attic in Aigio, positioned where the virtual cameras had been. A red ribbon enters and leaves the space, like Ariadne’s thread defining the room via its own choreography. The score by Savvas Metaxas places the peripatetic viewer of Deep Waters under an atmosphere of intense yet tranquil pressure, underwater, in anticipation of “the great crashing of the waves upon the standing ships” in the words of Embeirikos.