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”!
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.
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…