"Wild Oban" combines travel, exploration, nature, folklore, and the production of a short narrative video. We (Katie and Sofija) aim to create a video uniting local folklore elements with the real-life mystery of the elusive basking shark. We will travel to Oban, Scotland to document the island landscapes, Hebrides waters, and the basking shark. For an up-close thrill, we will even be swimming with these sharks!
The folkloric blue men and the rare sharks will be the film's primary content. The concept of the work will interweave notions of fear (depths/sharks/the unknown) blurred with the search for the monumental or the sublime. We are really interested in how people are drawn to the sea yet it generally is not a place of comfort. It is relatively foreign to us, incomprehensible in scale, and full of potential harm- such as drowning or predators. But at the same time the open water creates sensations of fear, it equally entices with the freedom of an open horizon and the calming sound of repeating waves.
The end product will be a large split screen video installation. Each panel will (at the same or different times) explore the same subject matters in different tones. The consistent content but varying emotional responses will push how one can interact or respond to the same set of stimuli. Such as representing the blue men or sharks warmly or with a foreboding perspective. But in the end it will be our firsthand experience interacting with this environment and these creatures that will inevitably determine the creative tone.
Oban is a rural town a couple hours north of Glasgow, Scotland. The area, which overlooks the Hebrides islands, has a history of intriguing folklore and stories that speak of sunken ships, magical hags, and storm kelpies. One particular story (found exclusively in the Hebrides) is the that of the BLUE MEN. The Blue Men hid in the lochs and seas and are sometimes considered a type of storm kelpie. They sang lines of poetry to passing ship captains in order to test their wit. The correct answers would allow safe passage through the dangerous waters.
The coast of Scotland and the Hebrides Islands (particularly the Isle of Coll and Mull) have abundant wild and beautiful geology, flora, and fauna. Just a portion of what we can see in this area includes underwater plant life, fish, dolphins, otters, seals, puffins, gulls and various birds, jelly fish, basking sharks, hexagonal rock formations, sea caves, whirlpools, and sand beaches. This dynamic landscape still has a low human density population that is ideal for experiencing unaltered (or less altered) nature.
With the "Basking Sharks Scotland" boat and resources we will explore Oban, Lunga and Staffa, Fingal's Cave, Mull, and the Isle of Coll. We want to explore the splendor of these waters and islands to capture footage of this less traversed area of the UK.
Basking Sharks are also known as 'bone sharks' due to the ribcage-like structure revealed when their mouths are open. Basking sharks are the second-largest living fish after the whale shark and are plankton-eating (they still have hundreds of tiny teeth though!). Adult sharks typically reach 20-26 feet in length. Fun fact: cases of "globsters" or unidentified sea monsters have turned out to be basking shark carcasses.
These slow moving filter feeders are found throughout the world's coastal warm-temperate oceans but, due to overhunting, in many locations they are classified as either 'endangered,''critical,' or have even disappeared completely. In the UK they are considered a protected vulnerable species. Due to their overhunting, wintering in deep waters, and lack of long-term scientific research, the basking shark remains a relative mystery. These gentle giants spark the imagination through their unknown habits, their peaceful nature, their astounding size, and their human tolerance.
Basking sharks are believed to be migratory and winter in deep waters. That means the only reliable way to see them is when they surface during the warmer summer season. Due to water temperature fluctuations, a Scottish plankton boom in July and August draws the sharks to the Oban area as a shark hotspot.
This means we have a limited period of time per year to witness these slippery hiders!
Before our trip starts, we will be preparing. Fortunately we have three whole months to research they sharks and the folklore elements through libraries, the internet, and historical, regional, a scientific museums and archives. Leaving from Newcastle on August 11th, we will take the train northwest to Oban where we will spend one night in a hostel. While on the Oban land we will be able to conduct local research on the folklore of the area in preparation for the following days on the water. From August 12-14th we will participate in the Three Day Shark Tour with Basking Sharks Scotland. Through snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, and sight seeing from the boat we will get real first hand experience with the Hebrides landscape and nature. It is also where we will encounter (and hopefully not be terrified by) the large basking sharks. This is when the majority of our recording will take place. We will shoot everything we experience with all the equipment in our arsenal including: multiple digital cameras, video recording, underwater film cameras, and sound recording equipment. The varying recording techniques will provide different effects that will be collaged together in our final video. Each day of our journey we will post updates and blog entries with the days' events and a preview photo or two so you can witness the process each step of the way.
After the boat trip, we will return to Newcastle to review our material and create a split screen video installation. The end product will be designed for large scale installation viewing and will be adapted for computer screens so our supporters can view the work from anywhere. Yay internet!
The primary reason we are starting our proposal in March is that the wild swimming and shark tours book FAR in advance. We have secured two spots for August but we still need to cover the deposit.
Our costs include train rides from Newcastle to Oban, one night in a hostel, equipment insurance, snorkeling gear and wetsuits, the three-day tour (which includes accommodation for those nights), and art materials for photography printing, screens, and video installation.
Estimated Total Cost (without food or other living costs) £1,800.
This cost is the minimum needed to safely get us there and complete the project. Any extra money donated will go towards better underwater recording devices and towards exhibiting our short movie in better and multiple venues throughout the UK.
We have the details figured out and we know what we need to do. We just need your help in getting there. Thank you for looking at our proposal and please support our project.
Special thanks to:
Basking Sharks Scotland for use of video clips and images until we procure our own. (http://baskingsharkscotland.co.uk)
Lee Rosevere for use of the song "Lost Ship" (http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Lee_Rosevere/)
Risks and challenges
Our little team of two have calculated this project to be low risk. That said, some possible challenges may include: potential damage to documentation or equipment, weather delays, and/or health issues. We will have insurance for both ourselves and our equipment. We have full confidence this project will go without any major hitches and we will always keep everyone updated! Or we could be horribly wrong and find out basking sharks do indeed eat people and then not return to finish the project.
Thank you so much for any help getting us to Oban and with our project! - Sofija and KatieLearn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)