My vessel is stopped and making no way through the water [2012]

My vessel is stopped and making no way through the water

Seaman’s Mess

An immersive installation incorporating multiple projections, geometric protrusions and a live video feed, My vessel is stopped combines digital imagery of international maritime flags and audio recordings of Morse Code transmissions in a new abstract language.

Maritime signal flags are a part of the International Code of Symbols that are recognised in nine languages (English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Greek, Russian). This installation uses international maritime flag vocabulary to call into question the consensuality of language and expose the relations of power inhering in communication systems.  In particular, this work highlights how frequently purported ‘international’ communications are in actuality unintelligible to outsiders; the knowledge of flag language, historically and today, is restricted to a privileged few – the military, merchant shipping vessels, and wealthy pleasure boaters.

Taking as its base material the agreed visual representations of these symbols, this installation inspects and subjects them to processes of abstraction and purification. Reducing the flag language to basic forms – light, shadow, colour, shape and sound (the key elements of cinema), this work nullifies its agreed meanings, reformulating the experience of expression as at once something shared, and uniquely individual.


Project Siege Mentality
Artists Audrey Lam , Caitlin Franzmann
Year 2012