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Pale Blue Dot Collective

/ Located in Margate UK

/ D.O.B. LB: 03/04/86 JH: 31/12/1976

Louise Beer and John Hooper aka Pale Blue Dot Collective share their insights and processes. Their work is enigmatic, it takes time.

interview below...

Q.
What is Pale Blue Dot Collective?

A.
There are two directors of PBDC, Louise Beer + John Hooper. Through exhibitions, screenings and workshops we endeavour to bring a new perspective about the detrimental impact of the climate crisis, not only to humanity but to all life and all environments. Framing the impact through the eyes of evolution and the immense time period it has taken for each form of life to arrive at this point, we want to create a space for discussion around the damage we are collectively participating in and its universal impact.

Q.
How do you define yourselves?

A.
Using installation, moving image, photography and sound to explore humanity's evolving understanding of Earth’s environments and the cosmos, Louise creates objects and experiences that reflect the incomprehensible nature of reality, from the ocean floor to the night sky. John is a photographer and artist working with sound and lens based media. Together we use sound, moving image, photography and installation to convey our sense of the wonder of Earth’s environments.

Q.
What was your path to collaborating in film media?

A.
We have collaborated on different types of work for many years, and working on films together was a natural step. Our first collaborative film called Photon looked at the progress of a photon from its inception deep inside our sun to it’s arrival on our retina. We have since worked on films about interstellar objects, the tidal zone in Kent and the loss of natural darkness.
...

Q.
Describe your practice - what are your collaborative processes and has it a leap of faith or something more organic?

A.
Often one of us will take the lead and write out an idea and the other will then add to it and together we work out what direction to take, be that sonically, a film, an installation or all three. We have been collecting field recordings which we have created during residencies across the world, which we often use to help enrich our sound projects. We often incorporate different light sources and light dispersion tools and are both really involved in the experimentation process which often leads to larger projects.

Q.
What is your favourite tool or piece of hardware?

A.
We have been using a zoom H8 handheld field recorder which we both really like using. Being able to use the recorder with the XY capsule is very handy without having to carry other microphones. We have a contact mic, small lavelier mics, a couple of mono shotgun mics and last year we added a hydrophone to our microphone collection.

Q.
What software do you use and what does it bring to your work?

A.
We edit film in Adobe Premiere. Having used Photoshop our entire careers the platform is already intuitive. We use Audacity to manipulate sound and compose our soundscapes and Protools and Qbase in the production of larger projects.
...

Q.
What have been some of the biggest challenges to your practice and collaboration?

A.
Recently, the pandemic has impacted several of our international residencies, but we have used the time to get to know our own surroundings in more detail. We are fortunate to live on an incredibly beautiful coastline, and love exploring the life forms that we share it with. During lockdown, we have also built an 86m2 studio next door to a wonderful artist, Rachael Champion, called Bright Island Studio. This studio is located in a barn on a farm that grows crops for biofuel production. We have created an enormous white space within the barn, with 8foot high walls. We are looking forward to welcoming an audience to the space for events and exhibitions when it is safe to do so. We had been selected as BigCi Environmental Artist of the Year last year and were due to spend one
month in the Blue Mountains of Australia. Of course, we were not able to go there, but we are really
looking forward to being resident there when we can.

PBDC had also been selected for a residency at the Arts Centre Christchurch Te Matatiki Toi Ora in Aotearoa New Zealand in 2020. Due to border restrictions, it was only Louise who was able to go, because she holds a New Zealand passport. However, we collaborated across the oceans in real time during the residency through research and the development of our sound pieces. These sound pieces will be on display during the Pale Blue Dot Exhibition at the Arts Centre later in 2021.

We are also working on a sound commission for the Bodleian Library which will be on display during the Sense-sational Books exhibition later in 2021. We are desperate to get recording in the incredible library, but have to wait until it is possible.
...

Q.
What inspires you?

A.
The knowledge of our own insignificance and the wonder of the heavens. We are so inspired by learning about different aspects of nature, from the history of Earth to the flora and fauna on our doorstep. With our coastal view, we can see the daily interactions of shags, gulls and a variety of shore birds. In winter we watch the arrival of brent geese from their nesting sites on the boggy Arctic tundra and the sanderlings from their Arctic breeding sites.

Q.
Which creatives/artists/filmmakers do you admire and why?

A.
De Wain Valentine
Valentine’s sculptures have inspired Louise since her first encounter with Gray Column many years ago. For Louise, the surface, scale and luminosity of his works reflect the unanswered questions she has about the history and future of the universe. Since moving to the coast, the artists can see many of the colours in Valentines work in the sky and on the water during the famous Margate sunsets.
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Roy De Carava
Among many reasons for appreciating the work, it is the sky (or lack of it) in De Caravas work which brings John back to them time and time again. De Caravas city scenes manage to capture life within the high walls of New York in a way that really emulates the claustrophobia of city life.

Utah Barth
John first saw Uta Barths work at the photographers gallery in 1998, her images have stayed with him ever since. Her works ability to transcend their abstracted figurative subject matter and force the viewer to perceive them in a personal manner has interested John and subliminal influenced his work.

Q.
Are you planning more work as Pale Blue Dot Collective and how do you see its future?

A.
We will be working with experts in the fields of the climate crisis and making contact with local environmental and wildlife groups to further our understanding of the problems that lay ahead. We want to work with as many minds as possible to break through the apathy that still exists among humanity. We are really looking forward to our future commissions, exhibitions and residencies, and making sound/ film/ installation work in our new studio in 2021.

End.

Artist insta @pale.blue.dot.collective
All images courtesy the artist