Special listening session 
Mark Fisher and Justin Barton
On Vanishing Land (2013/19) & transmission: londonunderlondon (2023)
Sat, Feb 17 and Mar 2, all day

This Saturday Mark Fisher and Justin Barton’s audio essays On Vanishing Land and transmission: londonunderlondon will be presented in the gallery’s video room for a special listening session. 

Justin Barton and Mark Fisher | On Vanishing Land 

The spatial and temporal coordinates of Mark Fisher and Justin Barton’s audio-essay On Vanishing Land , are the launch point for an evocative walk along the South East Coast of England, in 2006, from Felixstowe container port (“a nerve ganglion of capitalism”) to the Anglo-Saxon burial ground at Sutton Hoo. A walk under immense skies, through zones of deep time and within sunlit, liminal terrains, into the eerie. Everywhere there are charged atmospheres, shadowy incursions, enigmatic departures. A derelict radar base, coastal heathland, drifting thistledown, towers of overgrown shipping containers – music haunted by wider levels of reality, narrations about rarely visited zones and potentials, voices of dreams and stories. Beyond the surface of the day something becomes visible, a way forward, an escape-path from capitalist reality. On Vanishing Land is about following the lines of terrains and dreams. It is about a micropolitics of escape, of disappearance. A micropolitics of waking the faculties.

“It is April, but it feels like summer. They turn left onto the seafront […]” (1)

It is fitting for the exhibition that OVL should begin at Britain’s biggest and busiest container ports, with container behemoths silently following the horizon and revealing the inconceivably large and invisible structures of capital and the circulation of commodities of which they are a mechanism. At one point, Barton as narrator lists the names of the major global corporations containerising the world: Maersk, Sealund, Yang Ming, Cosco, Hanjin… In another time, these names might have been replaced by those of slave ships: Amistad, Beeckestijn, Brooks, Clotilda, Hannibal, (the German) Jesus of Lübeck, Zong. What connects the container ship to the slave ship is the practice of “tight packing” of their cargo, a practice tied to profit but increased risk. Echoes, connections, and reflections between seemingly disparate details illuminate the threads that connect the historical, political, and conceptual complexity at the heart of OVL.

Justin Barton and Mark Fisher | transmission: londonunderlondon

Marking the global premiere of this definitive version of the Fisher and Barton’s first collaboration, transmission: londonunderlondonencapsulates a close and unusual thematic connection to water culminating with events in London’s docklands. Thematically structured in five parts, The Quiet Man, The Drowned World, The Waves, necropolis now, and when space breaks open, it is an abstract and oneiric engagement with underwater and flooded spaces (and with the sea) that is not only sustained, but is maybe even a little bit eerie…

Fisher (†) asked: “Can we rediscover and develop modes of listening that are intimate yet public, collective but anti-social?”

On Vanishing Land can be listened to throughout the duration of the exhibition in the main gallery space.

The work “On Vanishing Land” was co-commissioned and produced by The Showroom and The Otolith Collective. Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England
Image: Mark Fisher, Cobbold Point, 2006, courtesy of the artist’s estate. 
Text: Jessica Edwards
(1) Description taken/adapted from the Flatlines / Hyperdub bandcamp online shop product page for On Vanishing Land:  https://hyperdub.bandcamp.com/album/on-vanishing-landi