Bringing a boulder into Edinburgh College of Art and releasing a small synthetic cloud out into the sky of the Flow country in Sutherland is a way of questioning our tendency to relegate the non-human and the non-organic to the role of ‘substrate’ to be acted upon by human beings. By perceiving that the world is ‘dense,’ that a stone is foreign and irreducible to us, and that a landscape can negate us, we are given reason to believe that the materiality of the world we inhabit lies out-side our selves. In light of this observation I have chosen to display two works that articulate a contraflow between what I perceive to be inner and outer ‘environments.’
The research I have undertaken this term explores the plasticity of the material world. Through a series of experiments conducted in out-side locations, I set out to make works that integrate themselves within these external sites of mobility and resistance as a way of keeping certainty just out of reach. Counter to this enquiry, I have also been running ‘control’ experiments within the studio. Scrutinizing the ‘behavioral’ properties of particular materials is a way of investigating whether matter can be understood as circulating between ‘natural’ and ‘man-made’ states.
I borrowed the boulder from a rural landscape in Strathmore, where a local farmer helped me harvest the stone using a JCB. A lot of Human anxiety has come to be attached to this object. A large proportion of my time has been spent negotiating the transportation and positioning of this rock. As a result it felt right that it should be presented as remaining in transit once inside the building: its fulcrum threatening, though constrained in its bindings.
Cloud Release captures a series of corn flour explosions that create very convincing clouds lasting for a fraction of a second. I have prolonged this instant of human triumph over natural phenomena just long enough to enable the inevitable collapse of the illusion, in order to reinforce a rhythm that is reliant upon the successive building up and resolution of tension. The body of this film-object is constructed from Orientated Strand board: a compressed wafer of Sitka pine plantation wood that may well have been harvested within the Sutherland region. This object synthetically emulates the particulate nature of the rock while its awkward balancing form evades the gravitational forces at work on it. The moving image is displayed unusually high within the window so that the energy being released in the film bleeds out into the sky.
Cloud Release, (film-object), orientated strand board, pigment, cornflour, electrical components, 2014
Erratic Boulder, steel, stone, ratchet straps, 2014