Ross Little @ CCA, Glasgow

Ross Little explores the lives of the residents of a secret KGB settlement, and the geopolitical and personal impacts they face, in this video installation at the CCA

Article by Adam Benmakhlouf | 28 Sep 2020
  • Ross Little

After some crunchy digital recordings of bird noise and water, Little gives some rules of pendulum fortune-telling, before remembering recent travels in Georgia. In particular, he describes a trip with a nervous taxi driver, going somewhere out of bounds. On screen, a digital satellite view tracks some of the locations mentioned, but Little also mentions that some villages aren’t on the map. The digital footage is replaced with slow, dedicated shots of the landscape, pulling the audience’s gaze to look longer at the livestock amongst skeletal traces of the ruins of Soviet buildings.

Several inhabitants of what was a secret village surrounding a now-destroyed radio jammer recollect the causes of their economic marginalisation, and the cancer-related deaths that were caused by the powerful radiation that was used to block incoming radio transmissions from outside the Soviet Union. A visualisation of a sonic wave form comes on screen as a rippling 3D animation of a net, first innocuous then growing giant. The scale turns microscopic as the animation grows nearer and larger before expanding past the frame of the screen.

The film switches to an expert dowser trying to renew the energy fields in Peaton Glen, near a nuclear warhead storage facility. It becomes a parallel process to Little’s involvement with the contested site and its inhabitants, but the distance of metaphor collapses as Little describes the ways that the technique was used by the Soviet military.

Through a careful and poetic process, Little’s film uses unique methods to recentre geopolitically the ruined village around Transmitter Station Number 5, as well as the individuals that continue to live there. There’s a patient and steady pace throughout, suggestive of the responsibility of documenting the people and memories of a community struggling against legacies of legal and political invisibility.

Ross Little: This Is Where The Spirits Tend To Hang Out, CCA, until 10 Oct, free (advance booking required)