Anna Elizabeth Hogg

Anna is a teaching artist and filmmaker working in central Virginia.

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above [collecting] below [detecting] above


above [collecting] below [detecting] above is a multimedia installation that critically engages with the intersections between surveillance, data collection, mapping, artificial intelligence, and climate change.

The installation proposes a para-science-fictional account of the February 4, 2023 China balloon incident, with key changes to the events in question. When the balloon is struck down off the coast of South Carolina, instead of being recovered by the U.S. military, it sinks to the bottom of the ocean. The weight of the ocean crushes and breaks down the balloon, its solar panels, antennas, and sensors. The balloon fragments drift into the depths of the ocean, where a massive cold-water-coral mound of Lophelia Pertusa has begun to spawn. When the coral larvae settle on the remnants of the balloon, a part-artificial-part-biological cyborgian coral reef comes into being. With each new piece of data the cyborganism collects, it comes to understand the extent of the anthropogenic threat to its ecosystem. Meanwhile, scientists mapping the southeastern Atlantic Ocean start to detect a signal coming from the deep. Due to the Exclusive Economic Zone, any coastal nation has sovereign rights to the 200 nautical miles from land–to explore, exploit, conserve, or manage the natural resources of the seabed, subsoil, and waters above it. The U.S. military establishes a perimeter around the source of the mysterious signal, unaware that they will find an extensive network of coral reefs that are able to detect them, in turn.

The work engages in string figures1 between issues of surveillance, sovereignty, and recent discoveries about deep sea coral reef ecosystems. The narrative is told exclusively from nonhuman perspectives, with the balloon and the coral reef as its protagonists. As such, the work asks its viewers to think differently, whether to unveil the operations of state and capital to collect one’s information, to understand nonhuman subjects such as a coral reef as having rights, or to consider the larger role that deep sea ecosystems play in our climate futures. The public becomes tacit observer and informal witness of both above and below.

2024
multi-channel video/film
sculpture

Installation: Welcome Gallery, Charlottesville, VA, June 7-27, 2024




List of works:

above / below, parts i-ii
16mm digital transfer, 4k video, HD video, three-channel 2K projection, stereo sound
18 min, 23 sec


1 Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Cthulucene (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016), 10. “SF is a sign for science fiction, speculative feminism, science fantasy, speculative fabulation, science fact, and also, string figures. Playing games of string figures is about giving and receiving patterns, dropping threads and failing but sometimes finding something that works, something consequential and maybe even beautiful, that wasn’t there before, of relaying connections that matter, of telling stories in hand upon hand, digit upon digit, attachment site upon attachment site, to craft conditions for finite flourishing on terra, on earth. String figures require holding still in order to receive and pass on. String figures can be played by many, on all sorts of limbs, as long as the rhythm of accepting and giving is sustained. Scholarship and politics are like that too-passing on in twists and skeins that require passion and action, holding still and moving, anchoring and launching.”

2024