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The project was initiated by Rose Butler whose arts practice and doctoral study examines borders, bordering, definition and surveillance, after visiting the policed borders of the seaside resort of Varosha in Northern Cyprus (2019) before the area was opened for tourism. She made this inital digital sketch Look at Those Palm Trees, as a way to examine and explore the site and its visual as well as physical restrictions and parameters.

Rose invited artists Kypros Kyprianou and Jeremy Lee to collaborate following funding granted by Arts Council England; Developing your Creative Practice. The project outline was developed in partnership with Helene Black and Yiannis Colokides, NeMe.
The project is funded by Arts Council England, the Ministry of Culture, Cyprus, the Centre of Research Excellence in Cyprus (CYENS) and the Art Design and Media Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University. The research (alongside a workshop in LiDar and photogrammetry) was presented at the Centre of Research Excellence in Cyprus (CYENS), Nicosia, Cyprus (November 2021).

UNLAND presents both documented and fictional material of the Cyprus buffer zone, Varosha and British military bases, as well as areas of bicommunal activity and farming. These spaces can appear extremely defined and frozen, in part through military and surveillance architecture, as well as the work of the United Nations within the buffer zone. Many areas are blurred and mutable, straddling areas of leisure, nature reserves, tourist areas, farming, and decommissioned zones. These areas appear, strange, uncanny, seemingly in stasis. They can be fascinating, intriguing and hold aesthetic qualities that are at odds with the control, violent history, or their historical and contemporary militarisation. These artworks extend the threshold of the visible through contemporary imaging techniques complemented by the particular ways that artists ‘look’ through making work. The focus of this project has been to move representation of these complex spaces beyond navigation, illustration, aestheticisation or documentation.

Rose Butler and Jeremy Lee used photography, video, LiDar scanning and photogrammetry to make work as travel restrictions took hold. High resolution and forensic technologies were restricted by the lived reality of the pandemic and created different types of borders and barriers to navigate. The ‘quality’ of the images instead present a ‘point of view’ that attempts to capture the impossibility of recording and representing complex sites through imagery.

Kypros Kyprianou worked, by necessity, remotely, using online archives, mapping and machine learning. Through these processes he has made fictionalised still and moving image works that interrupt and alter viewer perception through stereoscopes, maps and ‘pepper’s ghost’ illusions.

The artists’ use of these technologies extends and disrupts their geographical, military and forensic antecedence. ‘Visioning’ is disturbed, warped and ‘messed up’ whilst also being extended. Their processes reject ‘definition’ and resolution in favour of ‘messy data’. These undercurrents come to the surface, affect the quality of the image, create alternative textures, disturb the image and unsettle representation and reporting of sites of conflict. Rather than enhancing the ‘quality’ of the images, technologies expose the gaps, flaws, or what is missing. Through this they present the overlooked, beneath the surface, hidden, accidental or malfunctioning manifestations of ‘visioning’.