Levelling Network (2019-20)

The Kronstadt tide gauge was called the Hub of the Universe by Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space. It is the site from which all depths and altitudes in Russia are measured and determined, and it is one of the most comprehensive collections of sea-level data in the world. In Levelling Network, the tide gauge is a site of knowledge and ritual. It is used as a reference point to understand my surrounding landscape, measure my relationship to it, and investigate the history of Kotlin island.

I traveled to the tide gauge every day for two weeks to take measurements, and each night I analyzed and dissected these measurements in my studio space. From my window, the Kronstadt Naval Cathedral was well lit at all hours, and its presence became a constant beacon filling up the space. The dome became my navigational aid and a benchmark by which all other things were measured.

Levelling Network is a work about the tide— about taking measure and failing to communicate, both through language and data. Levelling Network explores my relationship with the tide gauge and the naval cathedral dome and displays how they are used as tools to collect, measure, and explore. The installation combines my processes, the tools I developed to examine the Kronstadt landscape, and the artifacts that resulted from this process of exploration.

Materials: Bespoke analogue tide gauge, surveyors flag, Surveyor Benchmark, video documenting process of recording sea-level, tidal staff + staff documenting color of the historic Blue Bridge, bespoke slide rule, drawings documenting analogue tidal measurements, shelf painted to reference historic tide gauge, system of weights and pulleys with hot water bottle to reference water pumps seen at flood sites, drawing mounted on aluminum diagramming mareograph system, digital print of water at measurement site mounted on aluminum, video exploring relationship of Kronstadt cathedral dome to navigation and coastline fortification

all images © Claudia O’Steen studio/ all rights reserved