Matthew Buckingham - Obscure Moorings

New York-based artist Matthew Buckingham has created a video installation especially for exhibition at FACT. Obscure Moorings draws on a short story by Herman Melville (Daniel Orme, 1891), which tells of an old sailor coming to terms with retirement on shore. The story was one of Melville's final works of fiction, and Melville was the same age as the fictional Orme when he wrote the story. His life-span had seen the industrialisation of the sea trade as well as the rise of other new forms of transport (notably the steam train). These technological and economic changes, in combination with shifts in world politics, transformed global relations in the nineteenth century.

Buckingham adapts the Melville story and character to early twenty-first-century Liverpool, in order to examine the similarly enormous changes that a sailor retiring today would have experienced. Melville's first port of call as a sailor was Liverpool, and he wrote extensively about his impressions of the Liverpool docks in his novel Redburn (1849). Buckingham is particularly interested in the new Liverpool docklands - an almost invisible area, yet one that perpetuates the city's centuries-old role in world trade. He filmed Obscure Moorings entirely in Liverpool, casting extras from the city and using locations such as the Seaforth docks and New Brighton. 

We are invited to interact physically with the project and climb the curving ramp, which references an ocean wave.

As with many of Buckingham's works, the viewer becomes part of the narrative and is here implicated in the underlying questions of Liverpool's transformation.