(n.) The act of looking forward, of anticipation, of providing for future wants
One day, an expedition of prospectors arrived at a new place.
They planned to explore how people lived and worked there.
Some of them had cameras; some had notebooks; some had computers. They spent a day taking pictures, talking to people and recording the things that seemed important to them about the new place, whether everyday or unusual.
The prospectors agreed to return to this place once a year, every year, until they were old. All the things they recorded on their visits would be placed in a box each year and stored somewhere safe.
They knew that sometime in the future people would find the boxes important, although they were not sure why or how soon that would be.
Prospection is an annual survey of the new inhabitation in North West Cambridge (now formally re-named "Eddington"), taking place from 2015 - 2040. The survey draws on our previous residency within the Dept. of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge, with whom we also produced the major installation, Tomorrow, Today.
The project aims to follow the evolution of the new Eddington community (some 3000 homes are planned) from its inception and through its first 25 years, in a direct response to the invisibility of such periods in the study of societies and places conventionally accessible to archaeology. Each year we invite a team of 'prospectors' drawn from the arts, sociology and archaeology to visit the site for two days and to make records of the place and its people in any way they see fit. The archive of original records - analogue and digital - is collated each year and placed in a new 'finds box' which is deposited with Cambridgeshire Archives for anyone to access and study.
Prospection invites the participants, workers, residents and a wider audience to contemplate the future of this new place and what they might value in the present - through the process of generating a 'forward facing' archive for the future.
To date we have carried out 5 surveys:
Prospection 00 on the 20th and 21st of February 2014
Prospection 01 on the 20th and 21st of November 2015
Prospection 02 on the 13th and 14th of October 2016
Prospection 03 on the 28th and 29th of September 2017
Prospection 04 on the 14th and 15th of September 2018
Prospection 05 on the 16th and 17th of July 2019
For both Prospection 01 & 02 we were assisted by staff from Skanska and Graham construction to look at the first buildings going up on site as well as their temporary offices and canteens. Prospection 03 focused on the new residents who had just arrived at Eddington, whereas in Prospection 04 saw a welcome return to the archaeology that was our first interaction with the site, when we filmed a new dig at the site with Cambridge Archaeology Unit and their public Open Day.
The prototype survey, Prospection 00, was conducted as part of Karen Guthrie & Nina Pope's artists' residency with the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, commissioned through the University of Cambridge North West Cambridge Public Art Programme, managed by the Contemporary Art Society and InSite Arts. A year '0' prototype of the box and its contents were produced and exhibited at Kettles Yard in Cambridge as part of our show 'Past, Present, Somewhere' (Sept - Nov 2014)