Steve Rowell

Overt Research and Dark Places


In collaboration with Neal White and the Office of Experiments.

Working with the Office of Experiments, I developed a database of military/intelligence/research & development sites hidden in plain sight across the English countryside. This culminated in an exhibition, Dark Places, for John Hansard Gallery, commissioned by Arts Catalyst and SCAN. November 2009 - January 2010. In addition to a bus tour and docuemntation, the exhibit featured work from Steve Beard and Victoria Halfor, Beatriz da Costa and myself (Ultimate High Ground).

Dark Places Catalogue is available from John Hansard Gallery. Essay by Sally O'Reilly

Atthe heart of the exhibition lies a field guide to Dark Places - South Edition, a database created by The Office of Experiments. The project uses experimental techniques, fieldworks and GPS technology to create a database that maps secret and intelligence space in the UK (Dark Places), and that that visually documents them on the ground (photographs), turning the technology and the gaze back on its developers. Working with Steve Rowell (CLUI) in the field, and supported by Lisa Haskell (technical developer), this is the first of a UK wide project actively documenting spaces through 'overt' techniques. To probe places in which knowledge as intelligence, research or experimentation / testing occurs entails extensive experimental fieldwork, means we are both open to and under scrutiny from the culture we are observing and examining. The database will be launched later this year. The Overt Research Project including the future 'Experimental Ruins' based in Greater London is supported by UCL Department of Geography, and Arts Catalyst.

More at the OOE


A selection of sites from the Dark Places online database with labels.