The Little Earth installation by London Fieldworks consisted of four channels of synchronised video shot on Haldde Mountain in the Norwegian Arctic, Ben Nevis in Scotland, and on the island of Svalbard. Video shot from four perspectives was projected onto a suspended cube-like structure, with an 8-channel surround sound score and narrated text. The visitor was invited to circumnavigate the work.
The piece inspired by two mountain observatories – Ben Nevis in Scotland and Haldde in the Norwegian Arctic – and two scientists – CTR Wilson and Kristian Birkeland – who were stationed on each of the mountaintops in the 19th century. Rejecting didactic and documentary techniques for the idioms of contemporary music and literature, Little Earth is an audiovisual poem reflecting how the last of the natural philosophers became the first of the big scientists. As technology and instrumentation replaces human intuition and perceptual faculties, Little Earth offers an opportunity to consider the implications for our future exploration and interpretation of the natural world.
Gilchrist and Joelson worked collaboratively with author James Flint, composer Dugal McKinnon, architect Ed Holloway and The Radio and Space Plasma Physics Group at the University of Leicester. As a prelude to this artwork, Gilchrist and Joelson formally twinned the Ben Nevis Observatory, Scotland, with Haldde Observatory, Northern Norway, in a special ceremony hosted by the West Highland Museum, Fort William, on 2 October 2004.
Little Earth funded by Arts Council England, The Scottish Arts Council, Lochaber Enterprise & The Highland Council. It is also supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Board and Arts Council England through the Arts and Science Research Fellowships Scheme.
See also Polaria, 2002, by London Fieldworks