I am planning to build an indexical exhibition of the most common elements found on earth, investigating their structural makeup through text, images (archival and self produced), the different ways these elements are composed to form larger compound elements and the arrangements of these compounds that are the building block for the material platforms of productivity mentioned above. Aside from an obvious reference to materiality and immateriality in the sense that everything we can touch, is at it’s base, made of things that we can’t touch, or even see, I also want to explore the notion of what “is” and “is not” a thing as defined by our sensory interactions with a small set of chemical elements. In a sense, materiality and immateriality are one in the same, only perceptible to us as different from one another based on our relationship to these basic elements and their embodied forms.
I worry that this may be a bit overly abstract. I will give a basic example of what I hope to explore further through this exhibition.
These are the 10 most common elements in the Milky Way…
Aside from the clear understanding that all mammals require Oxygen for survival, and that Hydrogen and Oxygen combine to form water, which is the primary component of human life, and these sort of, basic scientific notions (which are phenomenal in their own right), one can also explore the material relationships between these elements which are equally mundane and profound.
Cellulose for example is composed of Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen…
In turn Cellulose as a compound is instrumental in the makeup of wood, paper, film and magnetic tape. Which are some of the productivity platforms that I originally wanted to investigate, and which will remain, in a sense, the focus of the exhibition.
What strikes me as of particular interest from an artistic, or aesthetic standpoint, is the visually recognizable similarities between the structural makeup of these compounds and their material manifestations on earth. Through self produced photography and referential archived images, I will explore some of these visual and aesthetic similarities to visualize the relationships found therein. The graphic representation of H,C and O that allows us to visualize cellulose, is strikingly similar to paper pulp and the texture of the top layer of magnetic tape, when viewed closely. Both of which exist only as a result of our understanding of cellulose in the first place.
Through this cyclical deconstructive, and reconstructive exploration I want to interpret the notion of the “thing” as a composition of elements that are not in the traditional sense “things” at all, yet through our visual representations allow us to develop theories, tools and mechanisms that have defined modern history.
Each of the ten elements listed will be explored in this manner (Element, compound, raw form, refined/commodified) as they relate to the development of the productivity platforms that I have mentioned above.