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The Aphotic Zone

Frances Scott

UK, 2014
4 minutes, 34 seconds, Colour, Stereo
Original format: 16mm film
Available formats: HD Prores, HD H264.mov

Aphotic – without light – refers to the depths of a body of water where sunlight does not penetrate. Across the five screens of ‘The Aphotic Zone’ (2014) a number of films loop and coalesce: the interior of a 19th century palm-house populated by butterflies feeding on softening fruit, and chrysalides seen through verdant foliage; a refracted prism of light dispersed into its separate colours; a series of photosynthetic processes in plants demonstrated in a laboratory; an image developing in a photographic darkroom. On one screen, a script proposes a subterranean architecture inhabited by exterior voices, punctuated by an extract from Arkady & Boris Strugatsky’s ‘Roadside Picnic’ (1971), where the Earth is depicted as a series of zones containing unexplained phenomena. In the aphotic zone the only source of visible light is bioluminescence, and the transformative nature of these organic, sensing bodies, suggests the potential of vision and illumination at a time of reduced sight in darkness.