Archives for posts with tag: Plato

Hito Steryl’s essay In Free Fall: A Thought Experiment on Vertical Perspective talks of groundlessness, the loss of a stable horizon  as we enter an age of remote viewing and constructed visualisations that can invoke disorientation and require acclimatisation to new perspectives. Gravity is explained by Einstein as the curvature of space time; we are constantly falling through space. A black hole occurs when a massive star runs out of fuel and collapses in upon itself, compacting its mass to be so dense it causes a deep pocket in space time so that anything falling into that hole beyond the event horizon has no chance of escape.

It may sound a little dramatic but when an event you have been focused on for so long is no longer on the horizon but you have passed into its gravitational field and are sucked into its vortex it can feel like free fall, you pass through so quickly and just keep falling.

At least we took some photographs on the way through. For many of these we are extremely grateful to Sara Lynd for capturing Laboratory of Dark Matters so expertly and considerately.

In the short space of time at Guest Projects between the Lab. Talks+ and the exhibition opening I worked on some images I had taken when running the cloud chamber.

1704 Open lab testing

The original intention had been to print images of cosmic particles from the cloud chamber onto acetate and fix them behind the etched aluminium plates on the dodecahedron frame, there would be a band of light inside that would rotate, scanning the universe.

1704 Open lab testing 2

In practise the cosmic particle images were lost behind the etched plates along with the open structure of the frame and the rotating light proved temperamental.

There was also a large expanse of wall available.

1704 Susan Eyre by Sara Lynd (5)

Susan Eyre The Forms photo Sara Lynd

The result was I have two works.

1704 Susan Eyre by Sara Lynd (1)

Susan Eyre Diazôgraphô photo Sara Lynd

The immutable truths Plato discovered in geometry belong to the realm of abstract thought he called The Forms. This is where ideals reside, outside the limitations of the physical world and where, if anywhere, paradise might be found.

1704 Susan Eyre

In visualisations of dark matter created from scientific data we see familiar organic patterns emerge; the fronds of dark matter spanning galaxies could be the spreading branches of trees or the veins under our skin.

 

1704 Susan Eyre by Sara Lynd (4)

Susan Eyre The Forms (detail) photo Sara Lynd

 

These projected shadows of The Forms that govern the structures of our universe invoke a primordial response. Plato suggested we harbour memories of universal truths in our souls.

 

1704 Susan Eyre by Sara Lynd (3)

Susan Eyre Diazôgraphô photo Sara Lynd

 

The exhibition suddenly came together.

1704 Yinka Shonibare (1)

We were honoured by a visit from our lovely and generous host Yinka Shonibare.

1704 Yinka Shonibare (2)

and really appreciated his interest and chatting about our individual responses to dark matter research

1704 Amy Gear by Sara Lynd (2)

Amy Gear Nudge photo Sara Lynd

Amy Gear’s digital video work projected onto suspended body parts was edited from footage of the Women’s Self Defence and Green Screen Workshop that explored the visibility of women in the universe and the anticipation of the nucleus of a Xenon atom being nudged by a dark matter particle.

1704 Amy Gear by Sara Lynd (1)

Amy Gear Nudge photo Sara Lynd

We enjoyed the way the works overlapped with each other.

1704 Daniel Clark 2 by Sara Lynd (3)

Daniel Clark Veil photo Sara Lynd

Programming a vinyl cutting machine to draw with a marker pen instead of to cut, Daniel Clark created Veil, a reimagining of the single line engraving of the Face of Christ, known as the Sudarium of Saint Veronica, by Claude Mellan from 1649.

1704 Daniel Clark 2 by Sara Lynd (4)

Daniel Clark Veil photo Sara Lynd

Daniel also installed Edge-work, a series of radio receivers delineating the space with sound waves being received or distorted by the interference of the human form.

1704 Daniel Clark 2 by Sara Lynd (5)

Daniel Clark Edge-work photo Sara Lynd

Every so often the words of U.S. defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld echoed through the space… ‘ there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.’

In keeping with pinning down the unknowns is Peter Glasgow’s work.

1704 Peter Glasgow by Sara Lynd

Peter Glasgow The Indicators of Illusive Ideas photo Sara Lynd

Hints lie in the MDF stand and printed text, a DVD booklet from Game of Thrones. These are really props for a live performance when the text is richly spoken and like the text itself they make no claims to legitimacy.

1704 Luci Eldridge by Sara Lynd (1)

Luci Eldridge Untitled (Dark Matter, Reconstructed) photo Sara Lynd

Luci Eldridge’s 3D print with silver leaf, reflected on privacy screen, and scanned Germanium fragments isolated in the blackness of space take on metaphors of time-warp spaceships and thundering meteors.

1704 Luci Eldridge by Sara Lynd (2)

Luci Eldridge Germanium Fragments photo Sara Lynd

Sarah Gillett uses methodology borrowed from Private Investigators creating a detectives evidence board to map the history of a gold ring that began in supernova explosions billions of years ago, arriving on the earth through an asteroid bombardment and now sits on her mothers finger.

1704 Sarah Gillett by Sara Lynd (3)

Sarah Gillett The Case of the Gold Ring  photo Sara Lynd

The journey of the ring from raw element to love token brings the incomprehensible and the everyday together in a story we can relate to.

1704 Sarah Gillett by Sara Lynd (2)

It gives us pause to wonder at the origins of matter that surrounds us.

Kate Fahey takes us further into the subconscious

1704 Kate Fahey by Sara Lynd (1)

Kate Fahey Dark Adaptation (video still) photo Sara Lynd

How long does it take our eyes to adapt to darkness? What other ways of seeing exist?

1704 Kate Fahey by Sara Lynd (5)

Kate Fahey Optimistic photo Sara Lynd

What senses should we rely on? What role does intuition play?

1704 Kate Fahey by Sara Lynd (4)

Kate Fahey Divination Sticks photo Sara Lynd

Her video installation, live performance and emblematic sculptures draw on old forms of knowledge and refer back to the lectures of Rudolf Steiner to open a dialogue between ancient and modern technologies.

1704 Kate Fahey by Sara Lynd (3)

Kate Fahey Feelers photo Sara Lynd

There is a hypnotic allure created in the dark space where Melanie King’s Cosmic Ray Oscillograph operates. A laser light is sporadically jolted by a solenoid translating data from the LUX project to traverse a rotating disc coated in phosphorescent powder.

1704 Melanie King by Sara Lynd

Melanie King Cosmic Ray Oscillograph photo Sara Lynd

While we cannot see dark matter directly, only infer it indirectly from the spin of the galaxies and gravitational lensing we sense something is present and speculate its structure and role in the universe. Elizabeth Murton tests these theories, creating hand spun porcelain galaxies vulnerable to breaking apart, strung across the universe palpably supported by the threads of dark matter.

1704 Elizabeth Murton by Sarah Lynd

Elizabeth Murton Connective Matter photo Sara Lynd

End of residency Going Dark gathering begins

1704 Going Dark (9)

Late viewing opened with a performance curated by Kate Fahey. Tim Zercie, as spiritual scientist urges us to awaken, to open our eyes and our minds, to engage our senses and be transported aided by the mesmeric playing of uileann piper John Devine.

1704 Going Dark (7)

Peter Glasgow’s spoken contemplation on the commentaries that run alongside a process; the vagaries of trying to get close to something but failing.

1704 Going Dark Peter Glasgow (1)

Captivating storytelling in The Case of the Gold Ring from Sarah Gillett

1704 Going Dark (10)

Light dimming

1704 Going Dark (11)

Within that ordinary space were hidden the building blocks of the universe.

1704 Going Dark (12)

Dark matter allows structures in the universe to form by pulling matter into its gravitational field.

1704 Going Dark (8)

 

Big news is that Laboratory of Dark Matters has been awarded Arts Council England funding. I am still struggling to believe. We are also getting some support from the Institute of Physics for when we take the exhibition to the North East. This news is such a boost for our project and has unleashed a rush of activity, but also a torrent of admin. I had been making some progress with the sculpture.1702 Dodecahedron.jpg

Results of a day at Woodhall Barn Workshop under the steady supervision of wood wizard Christopher Hall and I am very chuffed with my dodecahedron frame.  The angles have to be cut so very accurately using a table saw and digital level to achieve the precision needed for it to fit together. It’s basically 30 identical pieces ripped from 2 x 4 pine at 31.7° and mitred at 36° and glued together. We got these top tips ‘How to make a dodecahedron the easy way’ from YouTube. It was not easy.

Reading Plato’s Timaeus and Critias I was hoping to find some more information on the relationship drawn between the dodecahedron and the cosmos but have found no further explanations. Plato describes a primitive chaos where the four elements of fire, earth, water and air formed from a turbulent mix of ‘being’, ‘space’ and ‘becoming’ to be assigned by their solid or fluid characteristics to the tetrahedron, cube, icosahedron and octahedron respectively then adds .. ‘There still remained a fifth construction, which the god used for embroidering the constellations on the whole heaven’…it’s almost an afterthought or maybe just too illusive to elaborate on.

1702-studio

I have started the experiment with sugar lift and etching aluminium to see if I can bite right through the plate and keep the structure of the image. I screenprinted a sugar lift mixture onto the plate on both sides. The image was adapted from data visualisation of dark matter kindly supplied by Ralf Kaehler of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology.

I drenched the plate in stop-out and left it to dry before immersing in hot water which dissolves the sugar and reveals the image. It was surprising how much fine detail came through. Though one side of the plate was always better than the other – this could be due to lots of things that are hard to control accurately like concentration of sugar, thickness of stop-out, temperature of water. A primitive chaos.

1702-detail-stopoutI am etching in saline sulphate as it gives quite a deep etch into aluminium.

great colours and quite mesmerising to watch as thick red deposits appear

1702-etching-process

Chemistry at work, lot of bubbles and heat. Several hours later after lots of dips, touch up of stop-out and fresh saline sulphate baths, light begins to appear through the plate

Cleaned up to see the results and decide where to go from here

The cloud chamber is also coming along. With the help of next door cutting my wood I have assembled the box. Even the insulation for the dry ice is cosmic.

1702-cloud-chamber-box

Had an interesting day listening to panel discussions and talks at Belief and Beyond Belief on the South Bank. Topics covered were Science versus Religion: Do We Need to Choose? ; Quantum Theology: When Faith Meets Science; The Big Bang and Beyond; God of the Gaps. Religion and science ask the same questions but have different mechanisms to answer those questions.

1701-shadows

These were some of the points discussed – When we look to understand the human condition and question the meaning of life, what truth are we seeking? The scientists present seemed more content to live in doubt but appreciated aspects that religion offered such as community, emotional beliefs and quiet reflection. The difficulty for scientists was in accepting that religions think they are based on truth. This religious truth comes from faith and cannot be tested as the argument is that God is beyond definition and therefore transcends understanding. It may be that searching for answers to resolve uncertainty is a survival trigger that persists as a craving in the human condition. .

1608 Paradise Row 7

The methodology of science is devised to look at facts unbiased, it has no moral or ethical framework. A theory in science is not a hypothesis. The scientists said they get frustrated by people saying they don’t ‘believe’ in their theory when they are based on facts. A theory may begin with a lot of intuition and wondering and develop like an artistic process of discovery within parameters; but then there is lots of testing, running the ideas through a sieve to filter out possible truths. A theory may start in mathematics but then is brought into the realm of language and the visual to express what we don’t understand. Georges Lemaitre in 1931 chose to explain his theory of the origin of the universe as “the Cosmic Egg exploding at the moment of the creation”; this became known as the Big Bang Theory. Pervasive metaphors colour our perceptions.

1701-seance

Science is perfectly happy to interrogate contradictory theories at the same time unlike religious belief which involves accepting one truth. All religions can’t all be right but their own belief in one truth makes it hard for them to accept a non-exclusivity of truths. Science cannot offer us all the answers. There cannot be a theory of everything, there must always be a gap in our understanding because to understand everything we would have to be omniscient – to look in from the outside. Or step outside of our own subjectivity. Thinking about this I went back to look at Schrödinger’s Mind and Matter, particularly his chapter Science and Religion which asks if science can help answer the questions of a possible eternity. Plato was the first to frame the idea of a timeless existence, more real than our actual existence which he saw as a shadow from some realm of ideas. He looked at the patterns in mathematics and geometry embedded in the structures around him that were determined by reason and logic and concluded that mathematical truth is timeless; discovery of it does not bring it into existence, it never changes and goes on forever. Schrödinger opens up further ideas on the indestructibly of the mind using the theories of space/time from Einstein and world view from Kant. This moves into more mind bending ideas, that theoretically time can be reversed. Here I struggle. The theories when pulled from mathematics into language sound fantastical, yet I am asked to believe mathematics is a truth. Then we come to the quantum world where observation and measurement do not apply. And so on.

1701 Soul Searching ve 1.jpg

Conclusions were: Our consciousness is the intrinsic unknown. We have to seek paradise even if it is unachievable and live our lives in a precarious state of doubt.

Analogies can be made, replacing religion with art. Making in Transit hosted an evening at Cube exploring art and science in collaborative situations to discuss the strengths and challenges in bringing them together. ‘Both physics and art thrive on the premise that there is structure as well as genuine ambiguity and mystery in the universe and although  very different in terms of practice, they both depend on an ability to visualise or conceptualise abstract notions and patterns.

There was an introduction to the world of Jiggling Atoms, a collaboration of scientists and artists who bring fun to workshops and experiments in arts and physics. Named after the visual interpretations of maths formula from Richard Feynman they display the same constant energy.

1702-feynman-diagram

Dr Daniel Glaser the director of the new Science Gallery London made the point that a successful collaboration is not so much about sharing knowledge but about tolerating each others ignorance, in this way a gap can be opened up for those who know nothing about either field to enter. The role of each party isn’t always clear or equal. He suggested the platonic ideal of ‘the essence’ was something artists could extract and Dr Chiara Ambrosio  suggested art should question the boundaries of science. Her interests are in the use of images to produce knowledge such as when high speed photography or microscopes revealed the secrets of the natural world. It was not as symmetrical as we supposed.

I returned the next day for an evening Imaging the Invisible to explore how we observe what we can’t see. Scientists and artists gave their perspectives on the invisible and how it operates in their own spheres. Bernard Siow and Yolanda Ohene from the Centre for Biomedical Imaging at UCL were passionate about the body imaging technologies they are developing, enabling extraordinary visualisations such as the muscle fibres of the heart.

Artist Dave Farnham has created sculptures through 3D print technologies that replicated internal structures from his friends who were going through medical scanning procedures due to illness.

Particle physicist Dr Ben Still introduced us to the world’s largest cosmic particle observation device The Super Kamiokande, set 1,000m underground in Japan.

1702 credit Kamioka observatory, ICRR.jpg

Using 50,000 tons of ultra-pure water as a target to detect neutrinos. The quantity is to increase the chances of a collision.  A neutrino interaction with the electrons or nuclei of water can produce a charged particle that moves faster than the speed of light in water. This creates a cone of light known as Cherenkov radiation, which is the optical equivalent to a sonic boom. The neutrino is a subatomic particle able to travel through matter without interacting, they have no electric charge and almost zero mass.

Lead is what we think of as most impenetrable. A lead lined coffin for Alexander Litvinenko. However it would take a light-year of lead, to stop just half of the neutrinos flying through it.

Anselm Kiefer Walhalla at White Cube Bermondsey weights the air with lead. We are in the lead coffin.

1702-anselm-keifer

Alternative materiality at Chain by 15 an artist led exhibition in Peckham presented an Itchy and Scratchy world brought together by the Pokémon generation.

1702-hadas-auerbach

The Head Must Go cross stitch on linen by the uncompromising talent Hadas Auerbach was a delicate and poignant highlight.

1702-venus-anadyomene

Enjoyed the beautifully staged performance  –Venus Anadyomene -a collaborative 3 channel video and performance by Verity Birt, Holly Graham and Richard Forbes Hamilton; part of ongoing research around de-colonising histories, feminist narrative and collective voice.

The layering of voices, looping narrative and rhythmic pulse hooked into lost voices of history transporting the audience into a dreamlike territory.

I was invited by Lumen:School of Light to show everydaymatters at Ugly Duck for a weekend showcase of artists who explore the relationship between astronomy and light.

1702-everydaymatters

everydaymatters dissects landscapes to discover the hidden structures of the universe.

1702-everydaymatters-holloway-n7

Images taken from everyday prosaic paradises such as Paradise Road, Stockwell and Paradise Row Bethnal Green, are divided into constituent proportions of dark energy, dark matter and the visible world opening the spaces between what is seen and unseen.

1702 Anna Gray.jpg

Anna Gray’s water filled glass sculpture gave endless pleasure

1702 Anna Gray 2.jpg

the mini planetarium experience from Sylvana Lautier, Rose Leahy and Kim Yip Tong was blissful immersion

1702-sylvana-lautier-rose-leahy-kim-yip-tong

Spaceheads & Rucksack Cinema multi media performance was funky

1702-spaceheads-with-rucksack-cinema

Was quite energising to set up and take down over one weekend with lots going on

1702 School of Light PV.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have our second venue confirmed and the first of our funding applications submitted for Laboratory of Dark Matters.

1610-mining-museum-3

I have been to see the lovely people at Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum who will be hosting our exhibition from July to September 2017.

1610-mining-museum

We are very pleased to be able to install Laboratory of Dark Matters so close to Boulby Mine, in the North East of England. This is a working mine that is also home to the underground laboratory we visited in spring to see for ourselves where scientists conduct research into dark matter and other projects that benefit from this extreme environment.

Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum has secured funding for major expansion over the next year with the whole site being redeveloped. This period of change gives us the opportunity to be inventive with the spaces that are available.

1610-mining-museum-2

Chatting with our dark matter consultant astro-physicist Dr. Cham Ghag about the different work the artists will be making for Laboratory of Dark Matters I was explaining my own interest in the symbolism Plato assigned to the dodecahedron as the shape that holds the constellations in the heavens and how I might use this as a metaphor for dark matter as the substance holding the universe together;

1610 reflect dodecahedron.jpg

Cham recommended I read some essays by Erwin Schrödinger that explore the thoughts of ancients and how they have gone on to impact our understanding of the universe. As Roger Penrose says in his forward to Nature and the Greeks and Science and Humanism ‘Schrödinger clearly believes that there is more to the study of ancient history than mere factual curiosity and a concern with the origins of present-day thinking.’  He is looking back to a time before science and the metaphysical parted company and set out on different paths to answer the same questions about matter and consciousness. Schrödinger explains the history of this rift and the consequences of separating reason from the senses; the paradox of an objective perspective and the limitations of science that excludes the imagination. I read What is Life? followed by Nature and the Greeks, while in Greece which seemed appropriate.

I also read Plato A Very Short Introduction by Julia Annas and have learnt more about his ideas and what was really meant by platonic relationships.

Plato was very concerned about what it meant to have knowledge and how people can be misled or manipulated by others.  From this standpoint he was not keen on the theatre or the popular epic poetry of the time that used seductive methods to persuade an audience of things that were not true. 1610-amphitheatre

He believed philosophy was a search for truth and his academy was a place to learn how to think for oneself through debate and come to your own conclusions. Not great as an artist to find Plato had no time to indulge the imagination but going back over what he was saying I think he had a valid concern over the sort of entertainment that is spoon fed to society and becomes part of a culture that then has influence on the way people live. It is the pap of the media that does not challenge but anaesthetises society. I am hoping he would approve of our endeavours to question the origins of faith and our relationship to matter.

1610-temple-of-zeus

Visiting Athens I had the opportunity to experience the majesty of the Parthenon and Temple of Zeus while trying to imagine the people I was reading about spending their days here debating the most fundamental and difficult questions about existence.

1610-gertrude-bell

An interest in history and archaeology led the progressive and pioneering Gertrude Bell, born 1868 in County Durham in the North East, to visit and fall in love with the lands and people of the middle east. She led an extraordinary life at the centre of middle eastern politics at a time when women were rarely conceded any powers at all. Letters From Baghdad, premiering at the London Film Festival, was a moving portrayal of her life told in her own words and those of her contemporaries recorded in evocative letters and archive film footage. This wonderful tribute to a woman previously written out of history was researched and directed by Zeva Oelbaum and Sabine Krayenbühl, founders of  Between the Rivers Productions, a name derived from the ancient word “Mesopotamia.”

1610-dawson-city-frozen-time

Another brilliant film documentary was Dawson City: Frozen Time; the bizarre true history of a collection of around 500 silver nitrate movie films from the 1910s – 1920s, which were lost for over 50 years until being discovered buried in a sub-arctic swimming pool deep in the Yukon Territory.

1610-dawson-city-frozen-time-2

Meticulously brought to us by Bill Morrison, clips from the reclaimed  films form the backdrop to the history of Dawson City, a once important hunting and fishing camp for a nomadic First Nation tribe known as Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in that became the centre of the Klondike gold rush displacing the native people as the area was swamped with 100,000 prospectors hoping to make their fortune.

The talk Going Round in Circles – from the roundabout to the quark delivered at Manchester University and the RCA as part of the final year of my MA programme was a reflection on the development of my practice and brought home the themes that repeat themselves within my work.

1610 roundabout.jpg

The circle appears in the  banality of a grey suburban roundabout that seemed a metaphor for a routine existence, becoming a catalyst in the search for paradise and its origins of Pairi Daêza and going on to question the matter that these dreams are made of.

1610-wlliam-blake-europe-a-prophecy

William Blake The Ancient of Days frontispiece to Europe a Prophecy depicting Urizen separating light and darkness

I was therefore interested to visit Seeing Round Corners at Turner Contemporary Margate. They had thrown the net wide in drawing together artists that have used the circle in their work or responded to its significance as  symbol.  I am often disappointed by this scale of exhibition that packs so much in. Too much information at once. Annoyingly there was no catalogue and no photography allowed. I have to rely on remembering what I saw.

More circles to be seen in the beautiful collection of works in  Romanticism and the Sublime curated by Jonty Levin at Lubmirov/Angus-Hughes.

1610-mohammed-ashfaq-1

Mohammed Ashfaq Black Hole III

The most mysterious circle of them all, the black hole was the subject of Professor Joseph Silk’s Gresham College lecture. We learnt there are two types of black hole – stellar black holes formed when massive stars die and supermassive black holes which sit at the centre of galaxies and probably formed along with the galaxies. The existence of black holes was first proposed by clergyman and philosopher John Mitchell in 1783. Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916 and in 2016 this phenomena was finally observed providing direct evidence for the existence of black holes.

1610-mysterious-holes

The spiritual vs physical human needs- Mike Kelley showing at Hauser and Wirth, recreates a piece of social architecture from the Chinese-America community of LA, reflecting a unique cultural collision in Framed and Frame.

1610-mike-kelley-1

Also at Turner Contemproary Margate was Yinka Shonibare’s The British Library, a seductively beautiful celebration of all that we have gained from first and second generation immigrants who have enriched British society with brilliant literature.

1610-yinka-shonibare

‘Is this that pinpoint which is divided by sword and fire among so many nations?  How ridiculous are the boundaries of mortals.’ Seneca AD 65

Haunting work by Lygia Pape at Hauser and Wirth exploring the relationship between reason and nature through geometric shapes.

1610-lygia-pape-4

I was interested to read how she followed intuition when creating her woodcuts; to let relationships between shapes be guided by an underlying sense of ‘magnetisation’. The artworks created then embody and emanate energy which creates ‘magnetised space’ into which the viewer is drawn adding another dimension to the field.

1610-lygia-pape-3

Forces are at play but gently held, as in the fragile balance of pigment particles, cascading and spreading in Ttéia n.7

1610-lygia-pape-1

and the silver threads of Ttéia 1C that appear and disappear as ephemerally as a shaft of sunlight.

Between Materials and Mechanisms from Elizabeth Murton; an exhibition with associated events and symposium was hosted by UH Galleries at The University of Hertfordshire. This work looked at connectivity and the structures that physically bind us together, spanning our body, architecture and space to explore how interactions of ourselves with matter reflect in our consciousness and effect our emotions.

1610-elizabeth-murton-4

Bringing together ideas and experts from fields including anatomy, philosophy, dance, visual arts and Zen Buddhism we enjoyed a day of theory and physical engagement which really brought home these relationships through dynamic experience.

1610-elizabeth-murton-2

Prof. Diana Cooles’  keynote speech Dirt- A New Materialist Approach helped set the background to the history of materialism from the old materialism of the first thinkers like Plato where consciousness and matter are separate to Freud and Marx where theory and matter are integrated. New materialism rejects the duality of mind and matter and believes that agency is not just a human capacity. Bruno Latour is a prime exponent of flat ontology where everything is equal in its capacity to be an actant. Prof. Coole went on to give examples of the agency of matter, looking at dirt and our relationship to it. She drew on the writing of social anthropologist Mary Douglas who classified dirt as matter out of place. Dirt is associated with pollution and waste but also soil and nutrients.

1610 inside outside.jpg

It changes agency depending on its location; inside/outside. She also looked at artists who use dirt in their work not as a material to comment on society or value but as a co-collaborator, allowing the dirt its transgressive qualities to create a visceral experience for the viewer.

1610-avoiding

Interestingly I have found Mary Douglas has also written an essay that examines circular thought patterns from ancient texts, Thinking in Circles: An Essay on Ring Composition. The abstract is as follows – ‘Many famous antique texts are misunderstood and many others have been completely dismissed, all because the literary style in which they were written is unfamiliar today. So argues Mary Douglas in this controversial study of ring composition, a technique which places the meaning of a text in the middle, framed by a beginning and ending in parallel. To read a ring composition in the modern linear fashion is to misinterpret it, Douglas contends, and today’s scholars must re-evaluate important antique texts from around the world.’

 

1610-mona-hatoum-plusandminus

Mona Hatoum +and-

 

Another experience of dirt was the excellent broadcasts from DIRT collective including  Peter Glasgow It’s not the Digging it’s the Dirt as part of ArtLicks Weekend which can be listened to via above links.

1610-antti-laitinen_7_7_7

 All of which reminded me of this work “THREE STONES” (2004) Antti Laitinen dug a hole and collected the stones he found after seven minutes of digging, seven hours and seven days.