Kate Paxman (Plymouth University, Plymouth, UK)

katherine.paxman@plymouth.ac.uk : http://www.hengistburyoverture.blogspot.co.uk


“In a deep cave, under conditions of almost total suppression of sensory input, our mind enters a state of severe ‘stimulus hunger’, and the subjective self emerges forcefully.”1

Diapsid is an immersive, audio visual evocation of our marine edgelands which fills the IVT with the acoustic ecology of the sea caves of the North Devon Biosphere Reserve and the image of their rocky interiors. The Dome appears to become an enclosing space, a dark cave where moments of light illuminate its craggy surface.

The sonic context is composed from field recordings made inside coastal, semi-submerged caves at Hartland Quay. The recordings are choreographed for the immersive, in-the-round sound system, creating a sometimes directional, sometimes saturated bioacoustic environment.

In this concentrated subterranean setting, the dome becomes both virtual sensory suppressor and amplifier, suggesting auditory and visual hallucinations attained from the sensory deprivation experienced deep underground.2

Subject to frequent wave surges, shallow water marine caves are dynamic environments, at risk of complete destruction from extreme storm damage.3 Even the pressure from monitoring or observation can lead to degradation, and so Diapsid is the hallucinatory, virtual recreating of an experience we shouldn’t seek to have, by a fully implicated human author.

keywords: auditory hallucination, visual hallucination, underground marine cave anthropogenic pressure

  1. Yulia Ustinova. (2009). Caves and the Ancient Greek Mind. Oxford University Press.
  2. Clottes, J. (2004). Hallucinations in Caves, Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 14(1), pp. 81–82. doi: 10.1017/S095977430421006X.
  3. Joint Nature Conservation Committee. (August 2004). UK guidance for sea caves. defra.gov.uk/PDF/CSM_marine_sea_caves.pdf


“The thing that comes most directly to my mind is the question of time,  that is the truth that field recording can reveal”1

Context: Diapsid is an exploration of the vulnerability of the shallow water caves of the North Devon Biosphere Reserve.2

Visual:  A projected animation comprising moving and still images of the interiors of sea caves in the North Devon Biosphere Reserve. The animation brings the surface of the rocky interiors into close focus, and is a slow-moving, slow-paced, evocation of these subterranean marine worlds.

Audio: composed from field recordings and found sounds and taking full advantage of the in-the-round sound system to evoke the bio-acoustic environment of the N.Devon coastal caves. The complex audio-scape is choreographed to shift around the circular space of the IVT, at times emanating from particular points in the theatre and then building to moments of saturation, enveloping audiences and focusing on a collective listening experience.

Work will be approx 6 minutes duration

  1. Lasse-Marc Riek in Cathy Lane and Angus Carlyle. (2013). In the Field. Axminster, Devon. Uniformbooks.
  2. Joint Nature Conservation Committee. (September 2016). Marine Vulnerability Assessments. Retrieved from jncc.defra.gov.uk/page-7298


Kate is a practicing artist and also co-leads Smooth Space, an artist-led initiative founded in 2011. Her work explores the uncertain nature of our current economic and ecological moment: our political and social climate of neoliberalism and austerity, the privatization of art, culture and education, and the ecological crisis we are facing from climate change. Using film, sound, animation and drawing Kate has developed her sensitivity to place and fragile habitats through recent projects including Hengistbury Overture (2016), commissioned by Activate Performing Arts for the 2016 Inside Out Festival, Dorset; Mutability and Beaten Earth (2015) for the Smooth

Space-Torre Abbey Residency Project and Inner Quarry (2012) for ‘over the horizon’, Berry Head NNR, Brixham, Devon, a Smooth Space, Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust partnership project. Kate is currently a Ph.D candidate with the art+sound research group, School of Art, Design and Architecture, Plymouth University.

Smooth Space is the collective name for artists/producers David Harbott and Kate Paxman and was founded in 2011.  They develop residencies and community projects in public spaces, initiating collaborations with a range of partners, to invite conversations about our changing world.

smooth space “always possesses a greater power of deterritorialization than the striated”1

  1. Deleuze, Guattari. 1987. A Thousand Plateaus. USA. University of Minnesota Press.
Balance-Unbalance 2017

Balance-Unbalance (BunB)
is an International Conference designed to use art as a catalyst to explore intersections between NATURE, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY and SOCIETY as we move into an era of both unprecedented ecological threats and transdisciplinary possibilities.

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