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James Cook moves his ships and men
through the empty spaces of Europe's mind.
Slowly the delicate lines replace
blank areas on the map, the margins
of human vision extend outward, the world
grows rounder and slightly smaller
as new information reaches England,
spreads to other countries
and is absorbed as knowledge.

With his new Harrison chronometer set
on Royal Greenwich Observatory time
Cook calculates his geographic positions
and navigates with an accuracy
never before attained. In Tahiti
he and his astronomers carefully
observe and record the transit of Venus
across the face of the sun. He
charts the coastlines of Australia
New Zealand and the island complex
of the unmeasured Pacific Ocean.

The acts and hours of all Cook's men
are part of history as they encounter
and amaze the native populations,
disrupting lives and cultures forever.

Sailing farther south than anyone
has hitherto dared, Cook has disproved
the existence of the Great Southern Continent.
Now, on his third voyage of discovery,
he points his ships northeast
from the Sandwich Islands towards
the coast of America, his mission:
to confirm or deny the still rumoured
North West Passage, the Straights of Annian
and the fabulous River of Kings.

Botany Bay, April 29, 1770. Click

The Harrison Chronometer.

The Harrison Chronometer

Distance is duration, days, months, years away from home, the gap between the exotic and the familiar, the numbness of longing. For the navigators it is something more precise, a matter of calculation and degree, of co-ordinates on the globe and charts on the table, of lines drawn with compass and roller rule. It has to do with the angle of the sun and the time on the chronometer. For me it is the difference between then and here.

HMS Resolution in Antarctic ice. Click.


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