Commissioned by Abandon Normal Devices festival.

Searcher brings together two contrasting viewpoints of search and rescue, the dog with its nose to the ground, and the view from above found in maps, helicopters and satellite images. These views are visually combined in a series of kites modeled on the ‘Gibson Girl’ which was historically used in R.A.F. life-rafts to fly an aerial up into the sky and send an S.O.S. radio signal. 

The images on the kites were captured by GoPro cameras mounted on a search and rescue dog, his handler, and a fake casualty during a training exercise with Langdale and Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team. The handler and dog were also wearing GPS devices that tracked their movements as they performed the search, and the tracks formed part of the images on the kites.

Working with the dog handler we reviewed the GPS and the camera footage to further understand how far the dog goes, and what it is doing when searching out of sight. This aspect of the work is part of an ongoing interest in mobilities research, and the specific ways in which animal, human, technology and environment work and move together.

The kites are intended for an audience to fly, to engage physically with the sky, wind, ground and image as it moves in three dimensions.
As you fly the kite, with your feet on the ground and your head in the clouds, it tugs at your hands like a dog straining at the leash, and draws attention to your place on the ground from a distance.

The kites have been flown at:
Abandon Normal Devices festival in Grizedale, Cumbria, September 2015
Morecambe Kite Festival, July 2016
St Anne's Kite Festival, July 2016
next at Egremont Crab Fair, September 2016
and exhibited in Skylines, Queen's Hall, Hexham.

Blog post about tracking and filming with the kites at Grizedale.

Thanks to Dominic Smith, Taylor Nuttall and Smile Factor 10 for supporting the project. Kites printed and made by Banner & Flag.