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where old stories weave into new stories of the microbial

...and old tech (magic)

...meets new tech (a sensing apparatus)

Lough Neagh exemplifies the converging crises exacerbated by climate change, historical colonialism, and modern neoliberalism. The current state of the Lough offers a chance to dismantle the systems contributing to the excessive phosphorus levels and aims to make visible these hidden dynamics and foster a deeper understanding of our environmental interdependencies.

How we approach this is important to consider, in order to not repeat the same mistakes over and again, we must de-colonise and de-centre the human perspective, whilst not de-valuing human life as part of an entangled eco-system that is curently being driven to a large extent by a neoliberal infrastructure.  There is much discussion about this in mainstream media at present, due to the work of the environmental activist jornalism of George Monbiot, who has recently written a very accessible book on the 'Inivisible Doctrine' of neoliberalism, thankfully bringing these concepts increasingly into the public realm. 

I feel it is of particular importance at this juncture to draw together the sensorial realm of the microbial together with the most current form of extractivism: neoliberalism, which develops upon several of my previous works in this vein. 


I'm interested in developing this narrative within a speculative science fiction informed by the multi-species sensing that the field recordings and data from monitoring the lough reveals, together with older traditions of sensing the lough from an indigenous knowledge perspective. In this way we draw out implications revealed at a microbial scale of a complex eco-system that includes the communities around the lough, within the flows of neoliberal power, as it becomes an infrastructural force.  The film is an opportunity to tell the story in an intriguing and compelling way that draws upon local knowledge: bringing together older traditions such as druidry and ancient herbalism into play with newer technologies of sensing the lough... think Koyaanisquatsi meets Neptune Frost meets Adam Curtis meets Moor Mother.


Working alongside citizen scientists (Friends of the Earth), we gather together local druid knowledge and ancient herblism, with scientists at Queens University, and local independent scientists who have been working on the Lough for over 40 years, capturing microbial video footage and utilising digtial lidar scans of the lough bed, with various ways of monitoring the lough for phosphorous and satellite enabled analysis of chlorophyll activity. We explore how these, in combination with field recordings, both audio and visual, engage with older traditions of how humans engage with nature, and collectively recalibrate practices of resistance to the flows of power currently swirling through the lough in the form of slurry.



  • field recordings

  • monitoring of the lough through samples and data analysis (Professor Mark Emmerson, Queens University Climate Plus, Les Gornall (Lough Neagh scientific expert working on the Lough for 40 years)

  • satellite imagery - surveilling for chlorophyll activity

  • witnessing the lough through aural accounts – collective writing project (Friends of the Earth, Save Our Shores, Love Our Lough, Surfers Against Sewage, Professor Mark Emmerson, Queens University Climate Plus, Sonic Arts (Queens University), Dr Thomas Muinzer (writer: UK’s Climate Change Act), Les Gornall (Lough Neagh scientist)

  • sensing the lough through druid, herbalist, permaculture practices (Jim Conway (druid scholar), Paul May (ancient herbalism) and many others around the Lough)

Toome Canal bridge - facing towards Lough Neagh

date: 20.10.23 16:00 - footage collected by Ami Clarke

captured on a GOPRO11

with thanks to James Orr for his assistance

Toome Canal bridge - facing towards Lough Neagh

date: 20.10.23 16:00 - 003 - footage collected by Ami Clarke

captured on a GOPRO11

with thanks to James Orr for his assistance

Toome Canal bridge - facing towards Lough Neagh

date: 20.10.23 16:00 - 004 - footage collected by Ami Clarke

captured on a GOPRO11

with thanks to James Orr for his assistance

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The captured footage shows the algae blooms dispersed throughout the water column as the temperature starts to drop in October - captured at Toome Bridge facing towards Lough Neagh.  The smaller size pieces show a state of microcystis that the cyanobacteria reach before eventually dying out for the year dispersed throughout the water column.  The outer skin of each cell is a gum or sticky jelly that binds easily to the other cells creating a colony. The larger size pieces are blue green algae suspended in the water column which tends to rest on the water plants and then floats when the sunlight provides the energy for gas formation resulting in bouyancy. At this time of year the huge biomass is dying on the lakebed and consuming the oxygen out of the water which is when the biggest kill of zooplankton will take place.

(these findings were analysed whilst in conversation with Les Gornall - a local scientist who has been working on Lough Neagh for 40 years - one of the first initiators of aneurobic digestion technologies, and Co-Founder International Environment Forum Oct 1997 - Present, Consultant | D.Phil, BSc.(Hons), CBiol, FRSB.

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