A solo exhibition at the Art and Design Gallery, University of Hertfordshire
Softkill made visible an obscure element of historic and modern-day warfare, posing a variety of overlapping questions around the morality of weapons development and the fragility of the natural world. It merged the disparate areas of species protection and radar technologies, in particular the countermeasures that have been developed to protect military aircraft now and in the past.
I collaborated with partners from academia and industry to realise Softkill, primarily Cranfield University’s Defence and Security School, where I liaised with Dr Clive Alabaster and Dr Evan Hughes. They had developed a radar unit for a large defence company designed to detect humans in unauthorised areas. I worked with them on adapting the unit to detect mammals and birds, in order to help natural history scientists spot and track wildlife.
I was keen to focus on species that are, or have been much maligned: magpies, jackdaws, grey squirrels, birds of prey, foxes and badgers. All have enticed fear, suspicion and controversy. Historically, similarly branded species were persecuted to near extermination, or extinction; actions which are now regrettable and irreversible. The exhibition presents a surreal tableau, which merges the bizarre with the real and includes a range of taxidermy specimens exhibited alongside bespoke radar countermeasures that if deployed could, in theory, protect them from being detected by radar. The installation also includes photography, drawings and Doppler sound recordings, all illustrating various species moving through a radar beam.
A PDF of Moving Targets, an essay by Angela Weight, Independent Curator and Writer can be seen here:
A PDF of an essay by Chris Packham, Naturalist and Wildlife Broadcaster can be seen here: