An artists residency at the Roman Baths, Bath, led to the creation of the 12 minute film Datum, itself the result of a light installation which highlighted the layered histories of the York Street vaults, part of the baths complex. Completed in 2012, this project was the result of a lengthy exploration of a zone of the Roman baths which lies outside of the tourist zone. The vaults are Roman in origin but marked also by Georgian, Victorian and 20th Century layers and interventions. The project was founded upon two premises: that the vaults are a complete and entirely authentic space, rather than a Roman space subjected to a series of unfortunate events; and that the space could be re-read and re-presented through a study of light and sound.

Drawing on Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s observation that human beings inhabit “an enigmatic world of which we catch a glimpse… but only ever from points of view that hide as much as they reveal,” the project involved the projection of a narrow beam of light which revealed the texture and materiality of the vaults’ surfaces as fine vertical slivers—or glimpses. Video capture of these light traces, matched with sound recordings from the points of projection, were brought together for the film Datum—a title which references the organisational principles which determined thhttp://estrangedspace.net/WP/wp-admin/edit.phpe positions of the projection device.


The film was selected for the exhibition Drawn, which ran at the Royal West of England Academy in 2013.

Leads: David Littlefield and Ken Wilder
Location: Bath, England