Hydrovisions, Water as a Liquid Archive
By Latent Community
Thinking with the waters can provide us a range of different readings on the entanglement between people, more-than-human communities and the environment as a living organism; all being interdependent regardless the distance that seems to separate them. As quantum theory proposes a physics beyond physics, it also reminds us of submarine universes, stories of wetlands, waterfalls and dams; of latent worlds full of possibilities for other futures that we tend to ignore.
Quantum theory sees things as waves, in an ever-expanding ocean where everything is in entanglement with anything else. In this oceanic interpretation of cosmos, where the linearity of spacetime has been steamed out, a different aquatic perspective emerges from the ripples. This perspective also performs as a catalyst to help us narrate the world as a symbiotic environment of transcontinental and transhistorical voices. Fluid voices which are cracks on the dominant and oppressive narratives and open up spaces for new stories to be told.
Can hydrovisions help us recount stories of places that no longer exist? Neromanna (Latent Community, 2017) is a project that summons the history of a sunken village and an ancient city from the bottom of an artificial lake. Created by a dam, the lake has been transformed into a reservoir to supply with water the country’s capital city. Since then, the lake has been the main source of water and as a result the village community has been dissolved.
The ripples in the lake echoes the liquefied memories of the submerged village. In this transformed-by-human landscape we can’t perceive what was there before, thus we tend to forget. But, the tidal movement of the waters dependent to the amount of rains and snow during the seasons, once in a while lowers the level of the surface and some stone houses rise up, summoned like ghosts. Ghosts point to our forgetting, forming parallel realities which exist in obscurity very close to ours.
The ghost is not the sunken village, but the latent conflicts between the natural and the artificial, between the metropolis and the periphery, between the dominant narratives and the counter-stories. The water doesn’t wash those memories away, it rather maintains them if we learn how to look. And if we can develop a different vision, this might be able to bring us in dialogue with alternative ways of thinking about our relationship to the world.
This text is based on the essays “Entangled Visions” (The School of Infinite Rehearsals: Scored Invocations, Onassis Foundation, 2021) and “Latent Practices” (RCA, CAP/Moving Image, 2021).
digital video, colour, sound
Courtesy the artists
Through multiple narrators, Latent Community’s video work NEROMANNA (2017) tells the story of Kallio, a village in Fokida, Greece, from which its inhabitants were evicted in 1969 and later flooded in 1981, being left submerged in an artificial lake. The flooding occurred as a result of the construction of the Mornos dam, to be used as a water reservoir for the city of Athens. Underwater footage of the sunken village combines with the voices of its former inhabitants, who speak of their eviction and relocation.
Similar events occurred here in Australia as a part of the Snowy Mountains Hydro scheme, in which over decades, a network of dams and power stations were built, diverting water from the Snowy River towards the Western interior of New South Wales, underneath the Great Dividing Range. Within this, the towns of Jindabyne and Adaminaby were relocated to accommodate the construction of dams and artificial lakes.
In Greece, the ruins of Kallio emerge with the lowering of water levels every once in a while during times of drought, a reminder of the power of water and its politics, as well as the consequences of its control through large-scale engineering projects on human life.