SURVEY 1: Rockall - February 2017
Prior to our departure date, I had planned an ambitious workload for the trip, and I looked forward to having the time and space to work from my experience of the sea. Things rarely go to plan on land, and it would be foolish to imagine it to be different at sea. I was secretly anticipating the wonderful uncertainty that comes with rough weather - storms at sea have long held fascination with artists throughout history, unfortunately the romantic notion of the ocean storm really jars with the actuality of its effect.
As the swell around the boat gathered, I looked on at the moon dancing wildly in evening sky. It took some time from me to realize that is was actually the ship rocking on the sea not the moon that was the problem. I ran down the corridor to my cabin to vomit, coming to terms of with my state of disorientation. Artists have always had a fascination with the idea of storm at sea, Turner being the most famous example of this, however the fascination never takes into account seasickness.
As the bad weather persisted I think more on how my bodies reaction to this environment, and the most common hypothesis for it's cause. Motion sickness is thought to be a disagreement between what is visually perceived as movement and our inner vestibular systems sense of movement, this conflict tricks the brain into thinking the body has been poisoned. So the feeling of being at sea is like the experience similar to ingestion of poison, which somehow keeps reminding me of Shakespearian dramas and fairy tails. Sea sickness is not just the physical discomfort of throwing up, it also brings on feelings of inertia, listlessness and coldness. I feel my body total rejection of this environment... feels like it is was only ever designed to be still or melt into the perpetual motions of the roaring seas I feel so overwhelmed by.
I was inspired by the determination of the science team to get work done in this hostile environment which continually felt like it was loosing it's gravity - the collection of water from the CTD instrument, offered me a more healthier perspective, Dr Trina McGrath very kindly kept me a of lower bottom Antarctic water of few hundred years of age. It is crystal clear and fills the 7up bottle to the top, which makes me think of holy water or Poitín packed away in what ever receptacle was handy at the time..
During the week I write and make time lapse animations of the wild sea through the port hole of my cabin. I consider how artistic observations of the ocean often connected to its surface, in comparison the scientist who searches the ocean depths for traces of evidence and actuality.
The wild weather may have gave me an initial limitations, but also gave me the opportunity to detour, I look forward to my next journey in April.
I want to thank Caroline and all the scientists and crew for their amazing support, and making this a truly exceptional week.