The Field Guide to Dark Places (South Edition) was a key tool used to catalogue our research into sites not normally accessible to the public in the UK. The sites that were initially selected for documentation were selected on the basis that they were engaged with scientific or technological research, most often in non-urban landscapes. As the process of research continued, it was clear the extent to which the scientific and technological complex has overlapped and become engrained within corporate, military and intelligence applications, and funding. Additional sites included in the final guide also included historic communications infrastructures, often military.
Sites were documented by combining field observation, alternative knowledge gathering and experimental geography techniques with a range of other standard and non-standard research methods.
The transparency level of sites were compared by looking at available public information on the research and knowledge being produced. Further information was gathered on the published papers, activity as well as funders, corporate or state actors and networks to which each site was connected, and this was annotated alongside the physical and geographical location of each of these sites.
In some cases, our research led us to false or mistaken public perception of these sites, and these misunderstandings became an important aspect of our work. For science this is now aligned to important democratic challenges in the era of false and fake news. Conspiracy culture remains a rich yet toxic field of inquiry.
All initial research was conducted by Office of Experiment artists using the overt research approach in plain sight and without compromising either staff privacy or any other legal requirements when documenting landscape and public space in the UK.
The website would allow anyone to sign up and contribute, if they had attended a workshop or bus tour.
The site was developed with Lisa Haskel, designed by Mark Shufflebottom and is archived on Arts Catalyst servers. An update to the mapping data will be performed in the near future.