Breaking the Surface
by Joanna Griffin

grainy image of a helicopter in flight

Video still from Breaking the Surface


For this work, Griffin recorded radio telescopes and helicopters and the coming and going of submarines on the Plymouth sound, bringing together mythologies and folk tales of the sea with the harsh realities of engineered machinery.

Working with the substance of surveillance - the digital recording, the monitor, the film archive of innocuous military exercises, the note-taking, the watching and waiting - Griffin resists creating a theatre of spectacular narratives. Rather the impact of her work is quiet and slow burning. It elicits a strong sense of foreboding in the unsuspecting viewer by exploring the associations of a society under observation.


Year 2002
Original format
Screening format
Aspect ratio
Audio Yes
Colour / B&W Colour

Screening history:

23 August – 22 September 2002
Plymouth Arts Centre, Plymouth, Devon

Related Items:

Joanna Griffin

An artist and educator based in the South West of England, Joanna Griffin's practice examines structures with political and scientific significance.