Griffiths, DA., 2015.
Deep Field [Looking Squarely Ahead]
To remember Holocaust sites requires a plurality of actors to articulate the genealogy of their genocidal infrastructures. Facsimiles produced by Sachs (1998) and Libera (1996) provoke contemporary art audiences to revisit their popular-cultural understanding of camp system architecture. Deep Field [Looking Squarely Ahead] engages a different perspective by working with forensic archaeologists to enable viewers in observing hidden material remains of the Nazi extermination site, found in a 2013 survey that located the Old Gas Chamber site at Treblinka Camp II in Poland. By miniaturising photographs and data into the medium of microfilm, the artwork mimics the condensed deposition of architectural debris, tool fragments and human possessions that were buried when the Camp was abandoned in 1943.
The research began in close contact with Centre of Archaeology at University of Staffordshire, engaging with their ethical process that uses both contemporary non-invasive, geophysical sensing and traditional excavation methods (Sturdy Colls, 2015). Subsequent studio experimentation tested the layering of microfilm fragments in an apparatus that enabled viewers to browse data and focus through images of artefacts at different depths in a 1:10 scale representation of a survey trench. The artwork was commissioned for Finding Treblinka, an archaeological survey and touring group exhibition organised by Caroline Sturdy Colls, to further corroborate eye-witness accounts and reconstruct the site's story of systematised atrocity.
This method of forensic generation re-thinks microfilm's dominant commercial use as ordered data repository, and forges original territory in media-art practice by re-purposing the medium as creative episteme of photographic fragments. The research contributes to art-science interdisciplinary practice, by collaborating within an enriched dissemination of forensic-science inquiry through a touring exhibition. It is a travelling witness to traumatic events enabling international audiences to 'find' evidence that, under halakha, cannot be removed from Jewish graveyards.
The research informs wider museum, education and heritage practice; microfilm can be considered in addition to artifactual, paper and digital records as a platform to remember knowledge about sites, events and communities. This method of imagining the deeper field can also be applied in social encounters that engage communities in re-containing affects of social violence through co-creating microfilm artworks and archives.
Libera, Z. 1996, LEGO Concentration Camp
Sachs, T. 1998, Prada Death Camp
Sturdy Colls, C. 2015, Holocaust Archaeologies: Approaches and Future Directions