Imagining Godzilla is an experimental mobile artistic and art-science research and network platform with a focus on investigating the environmental challenges facing the Baltic Sea and its surroundings. The first edition of the residency occurred in Helsinki during August 2019 in collaboration with the Bioart Society.
The Imagining Godzilla network platform is conceived and run by artist-researchers Merja Puustinen and Andy Best. It is based on Godzilla, a Polynesian style sailing catamaran designed by James Wharram. The unique aesthetics of the boat create an environment advantageous to artistic thinking and research, in contrast to a conventional scientific research ship or a traditional artistic residency on land. The shallow draft, stable platform, and wind power allow artists and researchers close physical and mental access to the sea and its coastline. With over 20 years of experience sailing in the Baltic Sea, Best and Puustinen are concerned with the increasing levels of pollution, biodiversity loss, and levels of shipping apparent in the area. Imagining Godzilla is an attempt to use artistic means to research these phenomena.
Ten international and locally based artists participated in 2019, representing a wide cross-section of artistic disciplines. During this first edition of the residency, projects included sound art (recording both above and below the waves), video, creative writing including poetry and storytelling, drone photography, performance, and material collection and experimentation. The aim was to gain an understanding of the needs and desires of diverse artistic researchers and art-science practitioners.
Our aim now is to build an international network of artistic residency centres and scientific research laboratories with an initial focus on the Baltic Sea. The sailing catamaran will host artist-researchers during visits to partner locations. Site-specific working, coupled with dissemination and discussion of previous artworks and research to local audiences, are key aims. Research and artistic outcomes include unique artworks, performances, exhibitions, journal articles, and research papers.
Drone photography by Tivon Rice.