UNLAND: Exhibition Opening Evening on 7th April 2023

UNLAND poster, featuring exhibition times and artists, courtesy of UNLAND

UNLAND has received coverage in Parathyro, the cultural edition of Cyprus’ Politis newspaper. Read more here.

UNLAND: 18th April – 10th May 2023 at NeMe, Limassol, Cyprus.
Opening Evening Friday 7th April 7.30pm – 10.00pm

UNLAND presents both documented and fictional material of the Cyprus buffer zone, Varosha and British military bases, as well as areas of bicommunal activity and farming. These spaces can appear extremely defined and frozen, in part through military and surveillance architecture, as well as the work of the United Nations within the buffer zone. Many areas are blurred and mutable, straddling areas of leisure, nature reserves, tourist areas, farming, and decommissioned zones. These areas appear, strange, uncanny, seemingly in stasis. They can be fascinating, intriguing and hold aesthetic qualities that are at odds with the control, violent history, or their historical and contemporary militarisation. These artworks extend the threshold of the visible through contemporary imaging techniques complemented by the particular ways that artists ‘look’ through making work. The focus of this project has been to move representation of these complex spaces beyond navigation, illustration, aestheticisation or documentation.

Rose Butler and Jeremy Lee used photography, video, LiDar scanning and photogrammetry to make work as travel restrictions took hold. High resolution and forensic technologies were restricted by the lived reality of the pandemic and created different types of borders and barriers to navigate. The ‘quality’ of the images instead present a ‘point of view’ that attempts to capture the impossibility of recording and representing complex sites through imagery.

Kypros Kyprianou worked, by necessity, remotely, using online archives, mapping and machine learning. Through these processes he has made fictionalised still and moving image works that interrupt and alter viewer perception through stereoscopes, maps and ‘pepper’s ghost’ illusions.

Courtesy of UNLAND - Streets in Varosha (2022), 2022, Photogrammetry.

Courtesy of UNLAND – Streets in Varosha (2022), 2022, Photogrammetry.

Courtesy of UNLAND - mages of Varosha Beach (2022), 2022. Photogrammetry

Courtesy of UNLAND – mages of Varosha Beach (2022), 2022. Photogrammetry

The artists’ use of these technologies extends and disrupts their geographical, military and forensic antecedence. ‘Visioning’ is disturbed, warped and ‘messed up’ whilst also being extended. Their processes reject ‘definition’ and resolution in favour of ‘messy data’. These undercurrents come to the surface, affect the quality of the image, create alternative textures, disturb the image and unsettle representation and reporting of sites of conflict. Rather than enhancing the ‘quality’ of the images, technologies expose the gaps, flaws, or what is missing. Through this they present the overlooked, beneath the surface, hidden, accidental or malfunctioning manifestations of ‘visioning’.

Image of a woman next to a building, courtesy of UNLAND

Courtesy of UNLAND

Courtesy of UNLAND

Courtesy of UNLAND

The project was initiated by Rose Butler whose arts practice and doctoral study examines borders, bordering, definition and surveillance, after visiting the policed borders of the seaside resort of Varosha in Northern Cyprus (2019) before the area was opened for tourism. Rose invited artists Kypros Kyprianou and Jeremy Lee to collaborate following funding granted by Arts Council England; Developing your Creative Practice. The project outline was developed in partnership with Helene Black and Yiannis Colokides, NeMe.

The project is funded by Arts Council England, the Ministry of Culture, Cyprus, the Centre of Research Excellence in Cyprus (CYENS) and the Art Design and Media Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University. The research (alongside a workshop in LiDar and photogrammetry) was presented at the Centre of Research Excellence in Cyprus (CYENS), Nicosia, Cyprus (November 2021).

UNLAND poster, featuring exhibition times and artists, courtesy of UNLAND

UNLAND poster, featuring exhibition times and artists, courtesy of UNLAND

Images generated through LiDar and Photogrammetry scanning.

Salt Lake (2023) and Buffer Zone Oil Drums (2023)
Diptych 2 x Giclée prints on Hahnemühle Photo Rag paper mounted on acrylic.
99 x 39 cm

Beehives (2023) and Atsas olive oil farm situated in the UN buffer zone, Evryhou Solea Valley (2023)
Diptych 2 x Giclée prints on Hahnemühle Photo Rag paper mounted on acrylic.
41cm x 22.5cm

LiDar scanning uses lasers to generate a point cloud to create high resolution 3D mapping of the exterior surface of objects. It has terrestrial, airborne, and mobile applications and is commonly used to make high-resolution maps. Computer environments generated from LiDar scans enable a mobilised point of view, but where the LiDar has failed to capture information the image breaks down into the pixelation of point-clouds – both limiting and extending visual representation through spatial data.

Lasers hitting objects, surfaces and areas related to the military to create hollow shell like forms seemed an appropriate technology to consider spaces that are empty, inbetween, restricted or in stasis. Flora and fauna transcend boundaries, literally in the images in Postcards from Varosha (2022) but also in the olive groves of the Atsas farm within the buffer zone, through migration or the routes of creatures. The bees seemed to be a poetic representation of an organic point cloud or technology that transcends borders, flies off-kilter within organised and desired routes, bee-lines.

Images generated through Photogrammetry

Two images of Varosha Beach (2022)
2 x Giclée prints on Hahnemühle Photo Rag paper mounted on acrylic.
81cm x 44.5cm

Two images of streets in Varosha (2022)
2 x Giclée prints on Hahnemühle Photo Rag paper mounted on acrylic.
81cm x 44.5cm

Photogrammetry can extract three-dimensional measurements from two-dimensional photographs, and from this generate 3D environments. Depending on the data collected this can create models that are not precise, may be messy or have gaps and faults but that brings the situation of the documentation to the foreground. This time one that is swift, on the move and not relaxed. These images present the external shells of derelict, abandoned and distressed buildings in Varosha. An area of the resort was opened for visitors for the first time in 50 years, during the pandemic. It is a complicated and problematic site to represent sensitively and in a way that does not aestheticise a site of conflict. We used Photogrammetry to gather as much photographic information as possible. Whilst creating 3D point clouds we viewed the machine made landscapes and were able to compose these images similar to a photographer, but the images are chosen from a point of view that no camera or machine has actually been positioned at. This was very ‘messy’ data but lent itself to the subject, a site of ruin and loss where access has been restricted. The results generate a partial image which has a painterly and organic quality created by accident rather than the precise intention of the machine algorithm.

Texture maps taken from 3D computer generated models

White plastic chair discarded by the sea edge on the rocks adjacent to the buffer zone, someone might have been using it whilst fishing. (2022)
Giclée print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag paper.
100cm x 100 cm

UN oil drums and large cactus plants in the buffer zone next to a decommissioned UN post (2022)
Giclée print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag paper.
100cm x 100 cm

Wandering around an abandoned UN post next to Atsas olive farm within the buffer zone (2022)
Giclée print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag paper.
100cm x 100 cm

These images are ordinarily the behind-the-scenes ordering of ‘textures’ by the computer algorithm used in the creation of a 3D object. They usually sit on top of a model created, in the case of photogrammetry, from calculating the relationship between hundreds of images. The computer fits the ad-hoc and seemingly random textures of the 3D scene into a 1:1 2D space and organises for efficiency rather than aesthetics or in a way that might be cognitively rational. This creates a 2-dimensional abstract image of a 3-dimensional object or scene as a bi-product. If you look closely you can see recognisable elements, signage, and material details, such as strawboard, barrels, sand or plastic. In effect the images give actual material qualities to digital mapping, analysis and visualisation processes that usually remain hidden or that we do not ‘visualise’ as a material form.

Printed material and mixed media

Postcards from Varosha (2023)
1 set from a series of 10 sets of 18 handmade postcards of Varosha. Giclée prints on Hahnemühle Baryta paper.
18cm x 10cm

Rose visited the policed barriers that surrounded Varosha in 2019 and recorded the footage for Look at those Palm Trees (2021). A return visit to Cyprus planned for October 2020 was cancelled at the last minute in response to lockdowns and travel restrictions. In that week an area of Varosha was opened to the public for the first time since 1974.

The images in Postcards from Varosha (2023) were taken in October 2021 – a year later, during which the area had become established as a tourist destination. Bikes are available to hire, shuttle buses carry visitors around the 10km area, refreshments, toilets and cafes all populate the site. Plants crawl out of the buildings and scribble out many of the natural vistas we might expect, whilst the colours of this huge and historically popular seaside resort, are faded and subdued. Instead, flowers, brightly coloured clothes, signage, bicycles and the scribe and textures of plants and crumbling buildings punctuate the images. The site, void of residential occupation for so long, is incredibly beautiful and conflicted. As the war in Ukraine unfolded and we experienced contemporary scenes of conflict the imagery from Varosha was reactivated and took on a different form of agency.

This limited series of handmade postcards presents Varosha at this particular time. These limited editions will be available to purchase directly from the artist with all proceeds donated to the Home for Cooperation, Nicosia.

Unisland (2023)
Paper map
250cm x 100cm

The paper map Unisland (2023) is based on the background layer of Geographic Information System maps (GIS). GIS software ‘blends the power of a map with the power of a database’ to allow people to create, manage and analyse information, particularly information about location. In this instance the GIS layerdemarcatingBritish Sovereign territory, the UN buffer zone, and the areas cleaved in two, are taken and reoriented by surface area to form a line. The background information other than terrain has been stripped out, creating an (un)terra nullius.

News From Unland (2023)
Printed newspaper, 36 pages

Machine learning is used in a number of works to explore the relationship between online archives, mapping and image making along the buffer zone. What at first glance might appear to be a newspaper is in fact generated using machine learning text-to-image programmes, solely from the descriptions underneath previously published newspaper images.

Unland Imaginaries (2023)
Series of stereoscopic images with viewer
C-type on mdf
30cm x 15cm per stereoscopic image

Stereoscopes that became popular in the 19th Century use two photographs taken an eye-width apart to create the illusion of 3D viewing. The stereo images in Unland Imaginaries are created from single (monocular) photographs originally captured by Google street view from either side of the buffer zone in Nicosia. Machine learning techniques were used to estimate depth and create each stereoscopic pair. The stereo pair on the right hand side of each scene were altered using text-to-image machine learning drawn from interviews of people displaced from Nicosia in 1974. These were used to form instructions to ‘paint in’ elements to the scenes.

Stereoscopic viewing devices are available in the gallery for visitors to view the original stereoscope pair, the pair of images generated using text-to-image machine learning AI, or a combination of the two.

Distance: depth matte street views real or imagined (2023)
Series of C-type prints on perspex
15cm x 15cm

Distance: Depth matte street views real or imagined – reveal the background digital processes used to make the stereoscopic series Unland Imaginaries. They are part of the process of estimating depth using machine learning techniques, together with inpainting techniques – the painting-in of details into part of an image. The original images these are based on, were captured and processed by google street view cameras. The technique on display here is also part of scene-understanding that has been used in autonomous robots such as self-driving cars.

Unland test card (2022)
Portable stereo viewer device and image (13 cm x 5cm)

This small stereoscopic image is a reworking of an optometrist test card, used for measuring left and right eye strength.

3D printed scale-models

Abandoned shoes at the salt lake (2023)
3D colour print 80mm x 80mm x 10mm

UN oil drums (2023)
3D colour print 200mm x 150mm x 10mm

UN abandoned post (2023)
3D colour print 200mm x 150mm x 50mm

The 3D to-scale models are created and printed from photogrammetry scans. The models use a photographic colourised method of printing. The miniature scene is not an exact replica of the actual scene, instead it captures the visual properties of the scene in a hyper-realistic way. From this information a model within its original environment is generated that includes the lighting, colourisation and shadows cast, similar to a long exposure. Documentation that doesn’t freeze the image to capture clarity and detail, but one that captures the details of many images over the time it took to document the object (between 10 – 20 minutes).

Moving Image Works

Look at those palm trees (2021)
Single screen looped video 6:12 minutes.

This digital short provided the first ‘sketching out’ of the project when Rose visited the policed barriers that surrounded Varosha (2019) and recorded footage. Occasionally a sentry would whistle and indicate not to film or photograph when she pointed her camera towards the cordoned resort. So she hid her camera or positioned it hands-free on a tabletop to record. The digital short captured initial thinking around the project; the contrast of the tourist resort alongside a derelict war zone; the way in which the camera point-of-view suggested restrictions that extended behind the camera and beyond the frame; and the conflict of being there at all. As she filmed, a steady stream of people both British and Cypriot looked over the barrier, reminisced, and provided testimonials to each other. A young woman whose mother was born there, the resort where a man had met his wife, a woman who had been brought up there as a child. The camera became a prop from which to stop, look, listen and understand some of the nuances of the space.

Photographs from Varosha (2023)
Single screen looped video 9:15 minutes.

The video Look at those Palm Trees (2021) explored the restrictions of documentation at and of the contested resort of Varosha. A year later this video documents the authorised saturation of image making as the space was opened up to visitors. Clear guidelines for documentation were provided, no drone footage is allowed and because of my use of a tripod I was frequently asked if I was a press photographer. The buildings appear as though they are a film set, emphasised by a static and stage-like camera set up, characters walk and cycle across the screen as though following direction. Scale and a sense of the unreal is disrupted further by the hired bikes, which came in many sizes and were often too large or small, or had faults and were difficult to ride.

Simulator (2023)
2 screen moving image installation, glass pepper’s ghost illusion
46 minute loop

Two moving image works – Simulator and 35.1264° N, 33.4299° E (point centre) – reconfigure the fly-through technologies available using google maps. This mode of viewing and navigating uses Mercator projections – a map projection invented in1569. It became the standard map projection for navigation as it enabled the representation of north as up and south as down everywhere, whilst also preserving local directions and shapes. Google’s algorithmically stitched together mapping images utilise this projection for both flat and three dimensional views, presenting a dominant and ubiquitous visualisation and navigation of ‘reality’.

Simulator (2023) takes a google earth journey and splits it over two screens into zones that Google demarcates as the buffer zone and sovereign bases on one screen, and the remainder of the island is on the second. A glass reflection allows the viewer to position their view so as to unite the split images, echoing early military flight simulation displays.

35.1264° N, 33.4299° E point centre (2023)
Moving image installation
9 minute looped video

In 35.1264° N, 33.4299° E (point centre), (2023) a hand points into space hovering around a central point, both pointing towards and obscuring the destination of a journey recorded from Google Earth. It travels from a distance of 65117481 km away from Earth, to 50 metres above the ground at 35.1264° N, 33.4299°. The centre point of the journey and the finger is the point centre of Cyprus as deemed by Google, the longitude and latitude of the title. The altitude stops at 50 metres, the resolution from space of images for non-military consumer use.

The movement of the hand is generated by an AI that was given the task of making a three dimensional image from a photo of a real finger pointing at a flat map on screen. Its movement is as much a fiction as the visualisation of space of the Mercator projection that Google maps use.

Islands of Space (2023)
Single screen looped video 5:39 minute.

Cyprus has been referred to as an ‘island of space’ in a US congress bill, as a de facto US special intelligence colony. Both visible and invisible technologies permeate the island; surveillance cameras in nature reserves, fighter jets setting off to Syria or key Five Eyes listening stations. Layers of historic colonisation accrete with layers of technological colonisation. Whilst the green zone border, stretching from anything between 17 miles and 3 metres in distance, has opened up in places, this island-dividing corridor remains a space of stasis, symptomatic of political limbo.

The technologies and architecture of surveillance pervades sites within and around the buffer zone and British military bases. These overlapping ‘islands’ in space depicted in the film include decommissioned architecture of the UN, areas of farming in the buffer zone and the domineering and very active presence of the British ‘sovereign’ military bases.

Unphotography (2023)
9:16 portrait mounted moving image work
12 min, looped video

Unphotography enlists the help of machine learning in attempting to remember and recreate an incident from almost forty years ago. Kypros was prevented from taking a photograph of the buffer zone next to a sign with the instruction ‘no photography’. He used the machine learning programme to create images to visualise and remember what he failed to record at the time. In the process, between instruction and recall, the original untaken image becomes less, then more and less (un)clear.

Buffering (2023)
Moving image installation
2 second looped video

From a distance, Buffering might look like a computer screen displaying a startup icon for a loading screen. On closer inspection, the animating icon has been replaced by a spinning outline of Cyprus, the stripes of the loading bar give the illusion that progress is being made.

Varosha street flythrough (2022)
Video projection 5:59 minute loop

Travelling across Varosha beach (2022)
Video projection 5:59 minute loop

The viewer is taken on a virtual journey through a 3D digital environment. The fly-throughs travel through the architecture of Varosha captured in the form of 3-dimensional point-clouds. The use of point-clouds adds an eerie and ghostly quality to the experience, as the viewer is able to see the space as it exists in the present moment, but with a sense of the history of the abandoned buildings. Within the cloud, there are artefacts and glitches, or a misrepresentation of the actual structures and landscape. This creates a surreal and dream-like quality, as if the viewer is seeing fragmented memories or dream-like visions. The addition of a black background emphasises detail but also points towards space and vastness detaching the buildings from their geographical surroundings.

Varosha street cycle ride (2022)
Video projection 15:29 minute loop.

Raw footage of a cycle ride gathering data with a phone on a street in Varosha.

These different types of recording examine and question ways of looking, types of visioning, point-of-view, definition and the power relations implicit in what we can see, and who can see it.


Rose Butler UK

Rose is an artist, researcher and senior lecturer of Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University, UK. She uses adapted technology and custom built software alongside early cameras and analogue techniques to make interactive installations, single and multi-screen videos or large-scale photographs.

Rose has recently completed doctoral study that takes place at the Houses of Parliament, London, during the passage of the Investigatory Powers Act followed by analysis of archival film, video and photography from hidden cameras at the Stasi Records Agency. Retro spyware was used covertly whilst the Investigatory Powers Bill was debated, to question what might become visible when surveillance techniques are repurposed to look at surveillance. Rose’s research crosses paths with civil liberties, self-determinism, the politics of big tech and data. She explores the technologies that define the ‘image’ through an exploration of material qualities. Through these processes different forms of representation particularly of sensitive material, sites or contested spaces are problematised.

Rose exhibited work developed during doctoral study in the exhibitions Special Operations at the HPO Gallery, Sheffield (2022) and Investigatory Power, curated by Mareike Spendel, at Decad, Berlin (2020). In 2017 she exhibited Come & Go, an interactive dance installation at the Museums of Sheffield. She received an award for this work a part of the Surveillance Studies Art Prize (2018) and presented research at the Surveillance Beyond Borders and Boundaries Conference, Aarhus (2018). She exhibited work with Abandon Normal Devices (2017) and exhibited work at Kabinet Muz; Brno, Czech Republic (2017).

Rose presented research at CYENS, (2021); NAFAE Living Research: The Urgency of the Arts, Royal College of Art, March (2019); Free and Open Source Technologies, Arts and Commoning Practices: An Unconference about Art, Design, Technology, Making, Cities and their Communities, University of Nicosia Research Foundation, Cyprus (2019); Uncertainty, Turbulence and Moving Image Archives, University College London (2019) and Creative Interruptions: A Festival of Arts and Activism, British Film Institute (2019).

Kypros Kyprianou CY/UK

Kypros is an artist, film maker, curator and AHRC funded PhD candidate at Newcastle University, UK.

His arts practice examines the role that science and technology plays in how we view and interact with the social, political, and material world, historically, in the present, and with an eye to the future. He brings together competing histories through archival documents, myth and hearsay and considers the multi-layered political, social and historical elements of exploring a specific site or context. By combining a documentarian eye for a story with conceptual strategies and frameworks, his installations reposition the viewer in relationship to known or unfamiliar materials. Through his work he engages in playful representations using tropes borrowed from other genres. The combination of narrative and form places the viewer in a paradoxical position between what one sees or what one reads.

His practice-led PhD – Untangling AI – investigates the discourses and practices around Artificial Intelligence and the way they both close down and open up possibilities of the imaginary.

He is curator for Middlesbrough Art Week, (MAW) UK. The 2021 festival Infrastructure examined the soft and hard infrastructures that we navigate, power POWER (2022) explored how artists intervene and disrupt the way power is seen or unseen. The upcoming festival Measure (2023) approaches ways of thinking of past, present and future: from deep time to waiting time to no time (like the present).

Recent commissions include work for Science Gallery, London and Atlanta, USA; STUK, Leuven, Belgium; and Hull City of Culture. Art and film work has been shown internationally including at collateral events of the 51st and 53rd Venice Biennale, Italy, the 72nd World Science Fiction Conference, London, ‘Art Platform LA’, Los Angeles, USA, Arnolfini, Bristol, Tate Modern, London, Whitechapel Gallery, London and Museuo, d’arte Moderna di Bologna, Italy, and Neme, Cyprus.

Jeremy Lee UK

Jeremy is an artist researcher and principal lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University. He originally trained in Fine Art painting at Cardiff University and then went on to complete a masters in Animation and Visual Effects at the National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) Bournemouth. As a digital artist he integrates Fine Art practice with freelance and industrial work alongside teaching and lecturing in digital media.

Current work

Collaborated with local museum Creswell Crags, Derbyshire, UK. Using new techniques through LiDar scanning and photogrammetry, Jeremy created a virtual 3D replica of an inaccessible cave with recently discovered apotropaic (witch marks) inside. This cave was previously inaccessible to visitors and enabled an exploration of the interior for remote visitors alongside the potential of a detailed examination of the marks for researchers. Recent work of printed ‘texture maps’ were exhibited as part of Middlesbrough Art Weekender (2022). Jeremy’s earlier Lidar scans and photogrammetry work were exhibited in the Northern Lights exhibition and conference at SHU 2018 /2019.

Jeremy developed the walking arts research group within the Media Arts and Communications department at Sheffield Hallam University. In 2017 Jeremy was part of Solar as part of the research group for the creative arts festival Catalyst. Solar consisted of an interactive walk through a relative solar system mapped using GPS onto the physical landscape. Digital works of art unlocked on mobile devices at each mapped planet visited. This project was presented at Documenta, Kassel, 2017.

In 2020 Jeremy collaborated with filmmaker Annie Watson on her British Council commission film La Couleur de la Température which has been exhibited in six countries: NGC Bocas Literature Festival;Trinidad and Tobago, Open Book Festival, South Africa, Dhaka Literature Festival, Bangladesh, Festival of the European Short Story, Croatia, Mile Ends Poets Festival, Montreal and Off the Shelf Festival, Sheffield.