Considered as a eulogy or mourning architecture, Go Deo (the Irish word meaning forever) is a video triptych and audio work that has been created in memory of the Luachair an Phollaigh (Rush of Pollagh), which is now extinct. The work draws on plant illustrations from the German botanical illustrator, Johann Georg Sturm, whose 1796 publication contributed to the early classification of plant species.
This first version of the work borrowed illustrations of the Rannoch-Rush, also known as Pod Grass, Scheuchzeria Palustris and by its Irish name Luachair an Phollaigh (Rush of Pollagh). A flowering plant, Luachair an Phollaigh grew in the bogs in Ireland, particularly in Pollagh Bog, Co. Offaly. In the 1950s, the Irish peatland expert and environmentalist, Prof John Moore, whose pioneering research on phytosociology called for the conservation of the Pollagh Bog and the protection of the Rannoch-Rush.
At this time, Moore’s calls were not in keeping with the industrialisation of the bogs and in an attempt to save the Rannoch-Rush, he transplanted it to Clara Bog, where it did not survive and is now extinct.
Go Deo, provides a holding space for reflecting and acknowledging the loss of the Luachair an Phollaigh.
Accompanying the video triptych is a vocal and sonic composition that draws on the Irish practice of keening. Keening (crying/wailing) is a traditional, vocal lament that was once integral to Irish funeral rituals. Most often carried out by women, who “sing” in a repetitive and atonal rhythms to support the grieving process. For several reasons, including church control of the funeral process the tradition died out across Ireland, over the mid-twentieth century (1930-60s).
Across the duration of the gallery opening hours both the video and keening composition, slowly begin to break-down and disappear. Reflecting not only on the loss of species but also traditions of mourning and the realities of climate change, in that it will be uneven and occur at different rates, in different places. The words, sung as part of the keen, are visible as a print on the gallery wall.
In 2015, a team of scientists published a paper that examined whether human activities are causing a mass extinction. Using “conservative assumptions”, they compared base rates of animal and species loss with previous extinction periods. Their analysis indicated that the current extinction rates of mammal and vertebrate species vastly exceed natural average background rates, their conclusion stating that the sixth extinction, the “biological annihilation” of species, was well on its way. Whether we choose to consciously pay attention to such loss, its registration beyond a statistic or number constitutes a particular form of grief that acknowledges the interrelated nature of all life forms.
Go Deo premiered at LUAN Gallery, Athlone, Ireland, where it ran from July-September 2023. As a “mourning architecture” the backbone of the work, is intentionally created to so that the software, which runs the piece can be modified to other locations.
Materials: Max MSP with bespoke audio software, Logic Pro, Wikimedia Commons botanical images, Voice, Mouth Organ,
Credits: Concept, Voice, Sound: Teresa Dillon; Software: Matt Olden; Print; Letterpress Collective, Bristol