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Undead Sun

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Louise WilsonORCiD, Professor Jane Wilson



This is the final published version of an exhibition that has been published in its final definitive form by Imperial War Museum, 2014.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Undead Sun’ 2014, video, 12 mins 39seconds, gauze cube, gauze wall elements and vertical gauze Fins. “Undead Sun” was commissioned to mark the Centenary of the First World War. The work explores perspectives on visibility, technology, camouflage and the reconstruction of narratives surrounding the conflict. Much of the imagery in the film is inspired by the visual culture of the period. Uneasy, dream-like sequences are acted out against the ominous backdrop of a giant wind tunnel. These staged vignettes offer glimpses of individual, human-scale dramas, as well as intimations of the darker side of the society of the time. The film concludes by referencing a First World War account of an un-named conscientious objector, stripping naked and shredding the uniform that he had been forced to wear. It alludes not only to the First World War, but to protests against subsequent wars.The film was selected for the Rotterdam Film Festival where it received its cinema premiere in 2015. In order to highlight the hidden and the concealed. The film was presented within a specially constructed architectural setting, in which the viewer’s own lines of sight are directed, and partially obstructed by screens of gauze. Many sequences were based on my extensive research in the Imperial War Museums’ (IWM) archives in London and in Duxford and in the FAST museum archives of wind flow research, at Farnborough air base. Inspired by archive photographs and artefacts, and by diary entries and personal testimonies, the piece reflects on the visceral, elemental forces that the war unleashed. I filmed on location in the Wind Tunnels at Farnborough Air Field, I cast the performers from unknown actors based in London. Much of the voice over script was based on ‘C’ by Tom McCarthy, published by Jonathan Cape in 2010 with some quotes from 'Hide and Seek: Camouflage, Photography, and the Media of Reconnaissance' by Hanna Rose Shell, published by Zone Books in 2012. I wanted the film to blend animation, historical photography and staged scenes to underscore the paradoxical relationship between warfare and technological progress, emphasizing the evolving surveillance programme of World War I, as a precursor to current day drone technology.

Publication metadata

Artist(s): Wilson LA, Wilson JB

Publication type: Exhibition

Publication status: Published

Year: 2014

Number of Pieces: 1

Venue: Imperial War Museum

Location: London

Media of Output: Video Installation