A homemade towed submersible, sitting on a wooden flood. A strip of wood with 3D printed fittings at the front and rear.

Project Fish

Project Fish is my arm of the “Fishing For Footage” project by artist Julia McGhee. The general idea was to film underwater in a way that doesn’t involve motors, noises, or overt human control – essentially to capture footage in a way that doesn’t disturb the local wildlife and adds an element of “random drifting”, as a piece of driftwood may see it, for example.

Our first rig was simply a piece of wood with a camera mount, weighted to be just negatively buoyant, and with a dangling string with a weight on the end. When the weight hits the bottom the rig becomes positively buoyant and stays at a fixed depth…something we added after the first go sank deep into the seaweed!

This is Julia’s first exploration with the original rig – more of a “jellyfish” than a “fish”!

Fishing for footage from Julia McGhee on Vimeo.

Then I made the mistake of mentioning one of my half-finished projects, a buoyancy glider, quite a complex project which involves an underwater glider with lots of electronics and batteries sealed against fairly high water pressure. I hadn’t made the electronics yet, and we realised that with very little tweaking it could be turned into a towed camera mount. We replaced the electronic concept with a sealed syringe that would (in principle) work as an actuator for the rear elevator depending on water pressure, a custom printed GoPro mount, and good grief, it kind of worked first time.

Mk 1.5 – the first real test. Crab at the end!

Since the first trials we’ve been talking about how cool it would be to film in a jellyfish bloom, a brief event in the summer which sees enormous numbers of jellyfish all around the Scottish coastline. And yesterday (June the 30th 2023) we found one.

Further updates to follow…