A waterline is where the hull of a ship meets the surface of the water, in concept or in reality. The Plimsoll Line painted on the hull parallel to the surface of the water is a narrative, the story of what what should be correct as a reference against reality. As cargo is brought onto a ship or unloaded and as ballast is brought on or removed, the waterline formed by the water itself changes. A waterline is not a constant. Water temperature and salinity change the ships buoyancy, as does catastrophe.
Projected inside the largest crate are two overlapping images. One image is of a white ship floating on the surface of the water and the other is a black ship and the blue water flowing underneath. The white ship is a recorded image, a short four minute video presented as an endless loop. This is the painted Plimsoll Line, the concept of the surface of the water and a reference mark. The second projected image of the black ship reads as the shadow of the white, but the black ship is closer to reality. This projection comes from a magic lantern crate containing a tank of blue water and a small toy boat. A submersible pump constantly moves the water in the tank to provide waves the boat sails over. In contrast to the recorded image, this is a live analog projection, the mechanism of the magic lantern projector produces an image infinite small variations but largely constant in form. It is a current state referenced against the recorded mark.
Trans Empire Canal Corporation and the Burchfield Penney Art Center are embarking on a multi-year project “Cultural Commodities: As Exhibition In Four Phases.” In the first phase, a full-sized ship is being constructed inside the Burchfield Penney as a mock-up and proof of concept for an actual vessel that will travel along the Erie Canal from Buffalo to Brooklyn with a cargo of art and culture. Inside the Burchfield Penney, a series of exhibitions will take place inside and around the barge, with the first exhibition opening August 8th. I shot these images of the shipbuilding during a recent site visit to choose a location to install a piece created for the exhibition. Titled Water Line, the work is a group of shipping containers containing mechanisms to project overlapping recorded and live imagery.