Meta Incognita: Missive II is the second in a triptych of films by Syed that utilize different histories along and within the River Thames. The film, set in the near future, is built around the audio log of a renegade female ship’s captain traveling from the Arctic to England via the Northwest Passage. Her journey is based on the exploits of the Elizabethan privateer turned explorer Martin Frobisher. The imagery of the film consists of two shots, sunset and sunrise, filmed off the Essex coast at the mouth of the Thames. The natural rhythms of the location serve as a nexus for observations in sound and writing, bringing together the traces of wind, water, and light. Also on view is a group of photographs that seem to apprehend the cyclical transformation of this desolate landscape where the sea is endlessly filled and emptied into the distant horizon. A large photograph of a sweeping view from windows of an abandoned building appears to be a vista from a ship’s cockpit, revealing remains of a past era while observing the silent passing of a vessel on the horizon.
Alia Syed was born in Swansea, Wales and lives and works in London, UK. She has been working in experimental filmmaking for over two decades. Syed’s films have been shown at numerous institutions around the world including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles, CA; Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; XV Sydney Biennale; Hayward Gallery, London; Tate Britain, London; Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), Glasgow, Scotland; The New Art Gallery in Walsall, UK; and Tate Modern, London. Syed was shortlisted for the 2015 Jarman Award for innovation and experimentation in film making in Britain.