Overt Research Project- 'A Fieldguide to Dark Places - South Edition'
Authors: White, N. and Rowell, S.
Directed by artist researcher Neal White, Office of Experiments collaborated with researcher and artist Steve Rowell a project manager at the Center for Land Use Interpretation for 18 months in an exchange of methods, standard and experimental, fieldwork and mapping processes. The development of a specifically named research method 'Overt Research' was used to label an inversion of the direction of technologies and techniques exploited in surveillance and security control, and was used in this research to document both the real and imaginary spaces of secrecy in the UK, initially near to Southampton. Using photographic and GIS data sites of experimentation, intelligence and knowledge not normally accessible to the public were brought together in a drupal database. With a taxonomy and vocabulary based on levels of transparency of sites the research output brought together discourse concerning the UK and its techno-scientific and military complex and the public imaginary in relation to these sites. 'A Fieldguide to Dark Places - South Edition' was a central part of the larger exhibition, Dark Places, that White co-curated at John Hansard Gallery in 2009-10. ORP was launched as an 'open project' that also engages members of the public and amateur enthusiasts, and now incorporates them into the research process through attendance of planned activities and events. Many works are also included in 'Critical Dictionary' (Blackdog 2012) and were also exhibited in an installation at Blackdog Gallery, London 2012. Featured extracts from the database appeared in a 6 page article as part of Blueprint magazine edition examining new topographies. March 2010. Critical excursions / mediated bus tours using the ORP have further been supported by ESCR (Experimental Ruins, UCL, London), Big Picture (Secrets of Portland, Portland, Dorset 2011) and The Heritage Lottery Fund (London Orbital Tour 2012).