Show opening at The Physics Room in Christchurch tonight, on not a disimilar buzz thematically (externalised process-wise) from what is currently going down on the mind-set of our Next Wave project, BECOMING CAROL BROWN :
The title of this project, with its nod to alchemy, suggests an outmoded philosophy. To me alchemy is particularly interesting when understood in terms of process and not product. It’s not really about attaining gold from base metals but rather the mental space that that process allows – that utopia, if you like. Process over product, that’s the key.
— Simon Starling
British artist Simon Starling’s Autoxylopyrocyclobo
a project he undertook in Scotland in 2006; this slide sequence being
the only permanent record of the event. The original work entailed the
artist reclaiming a small steam boat called Dignity from the bottom of
Lake Windermere then motoring in it across nearby Loch Long, using the
wood from which the boat was constructed to fuel its motion in a process
of auto-destruction that eventually returned the vessel to the bottom
of the loch. This cycle of recovery and destruction finds its ideal
visual analogy in the revolutions of slides that pass through the
projector to seamlessly document the performance. As a record that
outlasts the action, it offers a metaphor for photography’s historical
value; yet Autoxylopyrocycloboros actually takes us nowhere, as each rotation returns us to the beginning; a perpetual return that delivers no final effect.
Starling describes his work as ‘the physical manifestation of a thought process’. As such it is an absurdist response to the terms of the Cove Park Commission for which the work was executed, which is designed specifically to enable a contemporary artist to undertake a period of artistic research in order to produce new work. Using old technology—steam propulsion and slide projection—Starling provides a humorously fitting analogy for the possible consequences of future real-world auto-destruction, referring—in the raising and sinking of his little vessel—to the Trident submarines that carry missiles as part of the United Kingdom’s strategy of nuclear deterrence that share their base in Loch Long. Autoxylopyrocycloboros
is therefore more
than a record; it survives as a meditation on history and technology and
a pointed critique of our all-too-human investment in progress and the
abuse of power to which it gives rise.
Opening Tuesday 22 May, 6pm
23 May – 23 June, 2012
55 Sandyford Street