Exploring Dark Places
This source preferred by Neal White
Authors: White, N.
Start date: 4 February 2011
Over the last 18 months, Office of Experiments, led by artists Neal White and Steve Rowell, have engaged in the Overt Research Project gathering together original documentation of sites of experimentation, intelligence and knowledge not normally accessible to the public. This research brings together a range of issues concerning the UK and its techno-scientific and military complex, and the role of the artist in an experimental society. The outputs of this work have been aggregated into a database, and the first version of this - 'A Fieldguide to Dark Places - South Edition' was part of the larger exhibition that White co-curated at John Hansard Gallery in 2009-10. In addition to discussing the act of documenting sensitive sites such as Corsham Computer Centre, ISEEE and Porton Down, Neal White will also introduce the first archive to be obtained by the Office of Experiments as a part of this project. Donated by the campaigner and activist Mike Kenner, it contains catalogued material of over 30 years of personal research and requests for information to Porton Down, the Cabinet Office and others implicated in experiments involving the spraying of the public with alleged toxic materials. Kenner's work has been so sustained over such a long period, that his knowledge has in turn been co-opted by Porton Down administration, who forward awkward enquiries on to him directly. This tactic turns Kenner into part of the machine that he resists. The talk will reflect on the issues raised by the work of artists and activists operating as independent researchers in a broader context of examining experimental systems, and in a context of socially-engaged arts practices.