Growing up by the Morayshire coastline, my work is environmentally focused, often exploring oceanic themes. I think of myself as a pseudo fisherman casting conceptual lines while fulfilling my urge to be submerged in saltwater and not harming any fish.
The digital nature of my medium necessitates prior field work and my most recent project took place on the peat bogs of Achnacree, where I was hired to remove invasive rhododendrons from the quaking wetland. Over the course of an academic year, I braved the elements in full waterproofs spending hours of my weekends drenched in the peaty waters, wandering the carpets of sphagnum moss in dreich weather to find inspiration. This culminated in what I perceived as a collaboration or “sympoiesis” with the land.
My background is in music and songwriting; I am a jazz and folk guitarist and singer. This experience in composition and performance has allowed me, while studying on this course, to prioritise the development of a visual language. My aesthetic palette is painterly and sometimes surreal. I often use a MiniDv cassette camcorder to capture film work; the constraints of this technology allows a rawness in processing that enhances the colours and textures of the moving image. This aesthetic seems closer and more honest in its interpretation of the filmed event. Digitising the cassettes is a slow and meditative process where I am able to watch the films upload onto my computer as the tape winds from beginning to end. Sound and music are still integral to my practice and I aim to use sonics to imply subtext and evoke emotion.
Outside of my studies and personal artistic projects I am the founder and co-director of the arts organisation, anam creative CIC. anam (with the support of Creative Scotland) provides paid opportunities for young musicians and artists based in Scotland, taking a process-driven and collaborative approach.
Michiel Turner was shortlisted for the GSA Sustainability Degree Show Prize.
'Seaweed' - visual excerpt by Michiel Turner
Seaweed is an animation exploring consumption and the relationships between materials and organisms in nautical environments. The stop-motion plays with form and poetics; layers of visualisation are collaged together on screen to create an ephemeral landscape and the narrator, ‘Nodosum’, leads the audience through fragments of inner monologue.
‘Nodosum’ is named after the seaweed Ascophyllum Nodosum and is searching for the “big” or “great” fish; an enigmatic vertebrate who has begun to swallow the seabed in a destructive pursuit. Nodosum is trying to restore balance to the ocean by eating the materials from Great Fish’s belly and crying seaweed tears which ultimately replant the seabed.
The soundscape is saturated with original music and seaside noise. The washing of the ocean is heard, drifting in and out. A call of oystercatchers murmurs. Percussion is used to signal the growth and occurrence of new visual elements such as lungs or wooden birds. The instruments heard were recorded live and resampled to continue a theme of recycling materials to produce new arrangements.
Seaweed was selected to be shown at the GSASA X Ponyboy Degree show After Party.
Around 23% of Scotland is made up of peatland which is said to “hold the equivalent of 140 years worth of Scotland’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions” (NatureScot, 2022). It is estimated that 80% of Scotland’s peatlands are degraded and are thought to emit more CO2 than they absorb, therefore, the restoration of these wetlands plays an integral role in Scotland’s tackling of climate change. My personal interest in the peat bogs, however, is not purely environmental. I aim to see what can be creatively achieved from interacting with such ecological spaces.
Sea.gard+n_ is an audiovisual work and VR experience exploring relationships between natural and digital environments. This project features four static films of underwater rock pools shot in Millport, creating a visually ethereal phenomenon that reconstructs natural space through electronic means. With binaural audio and a sensorial soundtrack, the audience is invited to engage with new phenomenological work in place of natural phenomena. Through this, viewers are encouraged to reflect on the role of their bodies. As Silvano Tagliagambe notes in their work, Phenomenology and the Digital World: Problems and Perspectives, our “external body is [..] an object that we treat like all the other objects of the surrounding reality in which we are immersed.” (2022, p.11).
Langen to Lossie
From Langen to Lossie is a poetic film that weaves together introspective monologue and painterly visuals. The film spotlights my father, Dieter, delving into themes of social class, personal identity, and geographical boundaries. Accompanying the film, the soundtrack blends live blues harmonica with my own original compositions. A central concept of the film is the transition from live instrumentation performed by my father to electronically produced music created by myself, creating a poignant parallel between the present and the past. This evocative journey is further enhanced by the use of grainy visuals captured on cassette, adding a nostalgic touch that enriches the overall experience.
The soundscape and atmos is made from originally captured field recordings and foley, imposed onto the work in post-production.