Halifax artist Anne Macmillan uses technologies of vision and mapping to explore the natural world, working to complicate our understanding of both nature and the tools we use to observe it. In her ongoing series Little Lake (2012–), Macmillan swims the perimeter of each of 20 lakes named “Little Lake” in the Halifax area, tracking her swims with photographs and GPS. In the resulting documentation, Macmillan uses the points of the GPS recording to structure and spatially map her writings on the swim, while also contrasting the official perimeter of the lake defined by government documents and satellite images with the perimeter as it can be experienced by a body—with edges altered by fallen branches, changing water levels, erosion and vegetation. Many of her works use 3-D modelling and animation to examine the distant or microscopic: “I’m interested in thinking about ideas of proximity,” she says. “The space between a thing and myself can become collapsed digitally—there’s a loss of information in this process, and there’s an asymmetrical relationship.” In her video works Walking with Worms (2014) and For the Trees (2013), the act of modelling takes on metaphoric value as a form of forced structuring—foregrounding the distancing effects of technology and erasure of bodily presence. Despite the hyperreal images presented, this enhanced vision leaves only a hollow shell, and her subjects vanish upon close observation.
Anne Macmillan Lures (still) 2015 Digital animation 6 min 21 sec