Fair Winds; Safe Return, 2014
Installation: waterproof nylon, mast, rigging, temporary walls, overhead projections, flood lighting.
approx. 15.5m x 15.5m x 16.5m
duration: 6 hours.
Fair Winds; Safe Return was a collaboration with the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic presented with Nocturne: Art at Night and curator, Eryn Foster. The project resulted in a 50 foot-tall poem constructed in 7 lines and 55 characters. Written in International Signal Code flags (ICS), the installation invited viewers to translate an elaborate and fleeting marine distress signal.
The installation responded to a body of research put forward by the Maritime Museum in their 2011 exhibition, Hello Sailor; Gay Life on the Ocean Waves. Drawing parallels between the language and intent of distress signals, love poems and coding practices of gay subcultures, Fair Winds; Safe Return made a coded declaration of love towards the transient; the ephemeral; and one immovable lover.
The project took its title from an ICS message permanently installed on the waterfront facade of the Maritime Museum adjacent and overlooking the site of the installation. The coded-poem re-contextualized lines from Canadian writer, Margaret Atwood's 1966 poem, "Evening Trainstation; Before Departure". Scans of Atwood's original text and pages from the 1964 Admiralty Manual of Seasmanship (both pictured below) were projected onto temporary walls alongside the flag-mast to aid viewers in translating the code. Viewers were also provided with pencils and small forms to assist and record their translation process.
Photographer: Andrew Quon