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Research Projects

Entropic Modern

Main project collaborators

Including: Dounreay Site Restoration Limited, Caithness; The Arts Catalyst, London; Kunsthall Charlottenborg, Copenhagen; V2 Institute for Unstable Media, Rotterdam; UKAEA Nuclear Records Archive, Harwell; English Heritage Military programmes Unit and Visual Research Centre, Dundee.

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Context and background

Gair Dunlop Research Gair Dunlop is a photographer, video maker and ‘interactive tinkerer.’ He is interested in combining elements of site-specific practice with digital technologies and makes artworks which explore the remnants of ideals for living, through a process he calls Entropic Modernism. Dunlop investigates different eras of discovery and propaganda: New Towns, military airfields, research establishments, film archives and the memory of progress.

Dunlop’s work over the last 10 years has retraced deep personal concerns: he grew up in a New Town (Cumbernauld) where a sense that living in a new future persisted, despite the slump of the late 1970s. Unemployment was increasing, and the future didn’t seem to have any solutions. New biologies, automation, nuclear disaster; all these things seemed very real. He spent many years as an activist in antinuclear squatting circles. Now, he is interested in questions of who the people on the other side of the fences were, what they believed, and how they lived and worked.

Aims and objectives

Dunlop aims to create works which explore the idealism and the psychogeography of British modernist environments. He experiments with place and memory, mixing archive and contemporary material, thus developing a process of social investigation. He aims to develop an understanding of historical sites of technology and state science; by presenting both the past self-image and official image of the place and context simultaneously with a reflection on their present state. A unique insight is acquired through the knowledge gained by investigating sites normally inaccessible to the
general public.

The aim of the works is not to be read as nostalgic for an age when social consensus either existed or was assumed, rather that they provoke us to consider what such a social consensus might mean, and how we might build on this in a 21st century society.


Gair Dunlop Research Outputs vary from websites to handmade books, lawn drawings to ‘expanded cinema’ events. Dispersals, is a site specific investigation, working alongside artists Louise K Wilson and Angus Boulton, and with 20th century archaeologists from English Heritage. In the 2-years leading to the closure of RAF Coltishall, Norfolk, the RAF granted full access to the site. Outputs include video, photography, sound recordings and a documentary. The team of artists, in collaboration with Dr John Schofield from the University of York, produced a joint paper, ‘The Aerodrome’: Art, Heritage and Landscape at former RAF Coltishall; this was published by the Journal of Social Archaeology (2012). Additionally, an essay, Art, landscape and the ‘technological sublime’: An investigation at RAF Coltishall (Norfolk) will be published by the Imperial War Museum.

Atom Town: life after technology is a film depicting imagery from the experimental nuclear reactor site at Dounreay. The twin screen HD synchronised projections have been screened, amongst other places, at the Kassel Documentary Film Festival and the Visual Research Centre at Dundee Contemporary Arts. The project was funded by a Creative Scotland Artists’ Film and Video Award of £20,000. Relics of Acceleration: a field guide will be included in a major publication, Virilio and Visual Culture, edited by John Armitage and Ryan Bishop, published by Edinburgh University Press (2013). This chapter is a culmination of Dunlop’s research at such sites as Coltishall, Bletchley Park, Dounreay and Orford Ness.

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