In early 2009, Isabella started work on Dead Reckoning – a “speculative account of the relationship between the early 21st century military eye and the artistic eye” (Streffen, 2010). It was made with professional military snipers over a period of six months, and was initially shown at the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne in August of 2009 as a three-channel video installation. It was subsequently revised as an orienteering game which was in play from 2009-2012.
Streffen decided that the key to resolving the work successfully was to employ the method used to generate the data – walking, looking, discovering – to create the art work. She devised a website with a number of password protected pages, chose passwords, printed cards with the various passwords and the web address on them and recorded the precise co- ordinates of the caches on GPS. These co-ordinates were then logged on geo-caching websites, and the game commenced. It is possible to unearth the secrets of snipers, but only if you can use a sniper’s eye in the landscape to discover what has been hidden. If you retrieve a cache, you can input the password to the website either using smartphone on site, or at any later time. The protected website pages contain drawings, photographs, sound files, text and links to the data recorded during the initial walks. Access to the information is strictly governed by the act of seeing. The hidden parts of the site are never shown. If you wish to discover the work, then you must walk, and you must look, you must reconstitute yourself in response to the Other who is imagining you, you must walk the landscape positioned somewhere between artist and sniper, and then the secrets of both will become accessible to you.
-It’s one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you in particular, because of course I have been trained to look at landscape and you’ve been trained to look at landscape with very different ends and as a result, actually we are incredibly untypical. Because most people are not trained in a visual way at all. So what is that like to look at that space?
-You’re right, I mean it is about how you structure looking at the landscape, because I’m thinking about capturing it in an instant, and the feeling of it, to the way that that grey, y’know that particular shade of grey of the sky up there and it’s moving and you’ve got the light patch of ground and again the darker blue behind it, and you’ve got this pink of the cherry blossom which really pings out to me – um That’s barely noticeable to me – Yeah, you don’t even really notice that, but it’s also such a managed landscape for me to look at …