NOT WAVING BUT DROWNING

A film and installation exploring the semantic and philosophical links between our understanding of astrophysical phenomena and the poetic narratives we create for our own lives.

The piece focuses upon two pieces of text, one scientific and one poetic, that would seem to be completely unrelated yet which, when placed together form an elaborate visual image.


Cast: Eleanor Buchan (astronaut), Kerri Hall (astronomer),Emma (outside observer)

Stevie Smith:
Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.
Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

Gravitational time dilation:
The effect of time passing at different rates in regions of different gravitational potential; the lower the gravitational potential (closer to the center of a massive object), the more slowly clocks run.

The gravitational time dilation effect a black hole produces is equal to that of an object moving near the speed of light. For example, an observer far from a black hole would observe time passing extremely slowly for an astronaut falling through the hole's boundary. In fact, the distant observer would never see the victim actually fall in. His or her time, as measured by the observer, would appear to stand still.

From the perspective of the astronaut, things would, of course, look quite different. After having passed the black hole's event horizon, the point in space from which nothing can escape its pull, there is no way back. While approaching the centre, the gravitational pull on the astronaut's head and feet differs so strongly that the body would be stretched out "like spaghetti".