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© artist ; (c) Lawrence Bird 2023

Lawrence Bird

Cargo , ongoing
Co-workers & Funding
Trinity Square Video, EQ Bank, WAC, MAC, Canada Council for the Arts
  • Cargo
    1920 × 1080
From the curatorial essay by Christina Oyawale and Karina Iskandarsjah:

"In this age of instant information and global communication, a key component of the machinery that assembles our 'borderless' world is the global shipping industry. Every year, hundreds of millions of TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units) of goods are shipped around the world via a network of routes connecting major and minor ports. The ease with which these materials move across borders belies the harsh restrictions on the movement of human bodies -- with the exception of a small elite.

"'Cargo' by Lawrence Bird creates an emblem of the shipping container: something that is central to the processes of global supply chains, with widespread social and environmental impacts. In 'Cargo', animated shipping containers host data-mined video renderings of formerly wild and cultural spaces surrounding ports and canals as territories of concrete and steel. These spaces have also become imbricated with our digital environments. Information systems are based on similar modern notions of networks, information packaging, and standardization. Additionally, we can reflect on virtual networks, as the software with which this projection was realized (TouchDesigner) manipulates and visualizes data by creating tools out of networks, nodes, and containers."
  • aesthetics
    • acoustic
    • animated
    • automated
    • documenting
    • installation-based
    • projected
    • remixed
  • genres
    • digital activism
  • subjects
    • Nature and Environment
      • globes
      • landscapes (environments)
      • pollution
      • sustainability
      • topography
      • water
    • Power and Politics
      • economy
      • equality
      • geopolitics
      • human rights
      • surveillance
    • Society and Culture
      • borders
      • capitalism
      • cities
      • consumption
      • globalization
      • migration
      • territories
Technology & Material
'Cargo' generates live in TouchDesigner from imagery originally harvested from Google Earth and edited in Premiere Pro. Duration of the piece is unlimited; individual videos vary in duration from 1:56 m to 32:14 m. Ports documented include Algeciras, Antwerp, Batam, Buenaventura, Callao, Colon, Doula, Durban, Elizabeth, Haiphong, Lagos, Long Xue, Los Angeles, Montréal, Newark, Port Said, Purfleet, Rotterdam, Santos, Shanghai, Tanger Med, Tanjung, Tianjin, Tilbury, Tunis, Vancouver, and Zeebrugh. 'Cargo' includes the FBX model 'Shipping Container B' by Omni-Digital Technologies, licensed. Audio consists of three tracks, all in the public domain, superimposed and manipulated in response to the imagery: ambient sound from the engine room of the MS Emma Maersk, courtesy vumseplutten1709 (freesound), 'containers collapsed' recorded near Sasino, Poland, courtesy maciej janasik (radio aporee); and 'the pulsed call of a fin whale' courtesy the BBC (Internet Archive).
Exhibitions & Events