In 2010, Alec Finlay was invited to visit the University of Warwick to meet staff and students and to develop an idea for a project. His interest was captured by the Navstar satellite system studied in Engineering. The image of the fat Navstar satellite with its “wings” evoked the idea of bees as an ancient communication system. The Omphalos stone in the oracle at Delphi is patterned with a crosswork of bees, which the ancient Greeks associated with the soul.
For Global Oracle, Navstar satellites have been re-constructed as nests for solitary bees by Spencer Jenkins, based in Nuneaton, who makes works using traditional thatching techniques. Global Oracle explores the relationship between bee behaviour and navigation; prophecy in ancient Greece and our contemporary oracles of the smart phone and satnav.
During a visit to the campus in Spring 2015 to teach in the English department, Finlay was inspired by the development of the Jam Grove and proposed this as a site for his Global Oracle. It is underplanted with bee-friendly plants to aid pollination of the nearby fruit trees.
The oracle at Delphi was sacred to bees, presided over by the Melissae: seers high on ‘green’ honey. Our 'buzz' is the honey of star-fallen communication. The prophetic power of our devices depends on an oracular swarm of satellites with their wings tilted to the sun. Vessels are controlled by the US airforce and Delphi is twinned with Schreiver airforce who employ the same system for their spy 'drones'.
Alec Finlay, 2015