Office of Experiments both co-curated and participated in Dark Places. The project, the first iteration of the overt research project (see over) focussed on the South West of the UK, and outputs of our research, and commissioned work was exhibited at John Hansard Gallery, Southampton. The project also included an online field guide and the first critical excursions or bus tours that have been widely acclaimed and supported at a later point as a core activity of Office of Experiments. See Fieldwork.
In addition to the exhibited research, presented in the form of a kiosk with access to a database of images and sites, the Office of Experiments also exhibited the Mike Kenner archive. Mike Kenner – aka Icewhale – is an independent researcher and activist who over 30 years had amassed an extraordinary archive of former classified documents, films, photographs and maps belonging to the Porton Down biowarfare research facility in Salisbury. A number of these involved experiments on the public. Office of Experiments undertook to archive this material, assign it as a resource for future use. It has since been accessed by a range of researchers and artists since – for more see Resources.
The overt research project was led by Neal White with Steve Rowell. Additional support came from Lisa Haskel.
The exhibition ‘Dark Places’ was co-curated at the invitation of Stephen Foster of John Hansard Gallery by Neal White of Office of Experiments, with Nicola Triscott, Rob La Frenais of Arts Catalyst and Helen Sloan of SCAN.
The exhibition featured the work of a range of commissioned artists: Office of Experiments,.Victoria Halford and Steve Beard, Beatriz da Costa and Steve Rowell.
More information on Arts Catalyst website here.
To launch: A Field Users Guide to Dark Places; South Edition. as an archived website, click here (new window).
The Overt Research method was developed during this project using a combination of fieldwork/field observation, alternative knowledge gathering – using experimental geography techniques/technologies, with a range of other standard and non-standard research methods to scutinise that which might not be transparent, or even sometimes concealed.
Overt as a term specifically reflects the aims of our fieldwork in relation to the subject – to open up counter positions and information on spaces of knowledge and intelligence which are not normally accessible to the public. In examining sites of the techno-scientific through to the military-industrial complex that fell into this category, using technologies developed by those we study (GPS for example), our fieldwork is undertaken in open and in plain sight, within the law, without concealment.
Overt Research is therefore undertaken whilst ensuring that only publicly available information is revealed. To this extent, we supplied tools and ID cards, legal and other relevant information (D-Notice etc) for researchers and others wanting to join the project.
The Overt Research for Dark Places relates to: The Mike Kenner Archive.