London Fieldworks was formed by the artists Bruce Gilchrist and Jo Joelson. London Fieldworks aims to enable creative research and collaboration at the art, science and technology interesection. Typically, their projects deal with issues relating to complex relationships existing between social, natural and technological worlds.
In 2006, London Fieldworks collaborated with The Arts Catalyst and the Department of Genetics at The University of Leicester to create “SpaceBaby” at the event SPACE SOON.
SpaceBaby is a 20-minute semi-fictional video journey into genetic space. SpaceBaby was part of the Hibernator trilogy of installation and video works connecting myth and science, environmental cues and technological control, the virtual worlds we imagine and the real world we cannot escape. Hibernator mixed laboratory procedure with physical performance, CGI, narrative and sound. Human guinea pigs, fruit flies and lab rats are seen inhabiting a hallucinatory 24-hour world where night and day are interchangeable.
Working with writer Ken Hollings and composer Dugal McKinnon, London Fieldworks artists Jo Joelson and Bruce Gilchrist have used documentary footage of the live SpaceBaby experiment, along with resulting data and footage shot around the capital. The narrative is played out in a world where everyone on earth appears to have fallen into a sleep-like trance. Has the whole planet stopped moving or merely its inhabitants? The project referenced the vested interest of space agencies into the possibility of human hibernation and acknowledged fictional representations of human hibernation within science fiction writing and film. The artists inverted their sleeping patterns and slept within the installation during exhibition opening hours. In the context of SpaceBaby, a parallel was drawn between shiftworkers and astronauts on long haul space missions. The lab-in-action was manned by a team of geneticists who examinined the effects of disrupted sleep upon whole genome, gene expression, with a particular interest in individuals undertaking shiftwork. Blood samples were periodically extracted from the sleep inverted artists and processed within the installation using Affymetrix gene chip Technology. The processing of the samples resulted in a series of images depicting the gene expression of disrupted sleep and were incorporated into the video work, SPACEBABY: Guinea Pigs Don’t Dream.
In 2008, London Fieldworks contributed to The Arts Catalyst's publication “Bipolar”, an interdisciplinary polar archive created for International Polar Year 2007-2008. The publication challenged our knowledge and perception of the polar regions.
Later in 2010, London Fieldsworks presented their project “Outlandia” at The Great Glen Artists Airshow. The artist Adam Dant was commissioned by The Arts Catalyst to make an aerial map of the Great Glen, charting the journey from The Highland Institute of Contemporary Arts (HICA) to Outlandia.
Outlandia is an off-grid, treehouse observatory imagined by London Fieldworks and designed by award-winning Malcolm Fraser Architects. Inspired by childhood dens, wildlife hides and bothies, by forest outlaws and Japanese poetry platforms, it is located in a copse of Norwegian Spruce and Larch in Glen Nevis on Forestry Commission land at the foot of Ben Nevis in the Scottish Highlands, two miles from the town of Fort William.
Outlandia is an artist-led project built as a platform for fieldwork and cross-disciplinary research, which during its time of service could provide a multi-purpose platform for the use of diverse community groups as well as selected artists. Outlandia is in line with The Scottish Forestry Strategy that aims to create opportunities for more people to enjoy trees, woods and forests in Scotland, and to help communities benefit from woods and forests.