'The Drowned' are once functional, operational vessels - from a World War II minesweeper to commercial ships - now submerged, consumed under layers of dense seabed within a body of water used by the Royal Navy in Portsmouth. Virtually unrecognisable, these drowned ships have transformed into something very different as their skeletal bodies are consumed by an accumulating muculent mass. In the mist and the first rays of morning sun, the wrecks become almost wretched, cursed.
As the objects of technological progress are submerged, these objects give silent testimony. They are a reminder of technological progress and the wreckages of human history. As Walter Benjamin wrote, 'human history keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage.... This storm is what we call progress.' Humanity's great challenge is avoiding its own annihilation through its technological progress and the destruction of environments to which we are inseparably bound and upon which our fate depends.
The seabed, seaweed and other organic matter function like history; it consumes events in the act of preserving them. The abstracted part of the image shifts attention to the physical materiality of the deep mud in which the wrecks are encased as photographic film is physically submerged into that same seabed. The physical alteration of the photographic negative references photography’s limitation as an instrument of historical perseveration; images of historical objects or event are open to wreckage themselves. The negative film becomes an object itself, rephotographed, and shown directly alongside the original wreckage.