The object of this experiment is to generate an “object of wonder” or as I like to describe it: “Machines That Do Nothing” -based on the research at UoW Innovation Campus this semester around installation artworks with an interactive/audience driven component. The theme for the work is ” A Natural History Museum After an Earthquake”.

I’ve been experimenting with this medium of very lightweight plastic sheeting for some time, which is semi-opaque and reacts really well when placed in front of a lamp. For this particular workshop I have been using white plastic sheets, and arranging them in various ways using the most powerful lamp available to humankind (The Sun). Some of  the results have been detailed in previous posts (here’s one example):

These images also use a thin white fabric called ‘poplin’ which is adjacent to the white plastic, so the sunlight here is slightly diffused before it strikes the cloth.

For the Studio Work I am aiming for a more complex set of shadows to create an image, using the ‘Natural History’ motif I settled on the core symbol of a Human Skull, slightly inspired by a kitsch object i found while shopping for Hallowe’en decorations, a plastic skull with a flashing LED light inside.  Initially I thought to rig the LED to an Arduino/ Motion Sensor, however some initial experimentation with placing the object in combination with the plastic sheeting generated some more interesting results:

Placing the plastic skull either in front of or behind the white sheeting gives a markedly different outcome.  The stand I have used here is an old lamp base which is rigged to swing back and forth when triggered by a pendulum, giving the impression that the head is turning left and right. The image resonates with a litany of popular culture icons, such as the metallic skull of Terminator and the infamous Damien Hirst Work “For the Love of God”.

While the image captures some of the essence of these works, it harks back to what I think is a quite primal recognition of our own bodies as mechanical/ organic objects, of which the skull is a central tenet of humanity, encapsulating all human achievements of the past few milennia: science, art, spirituality… Once I had discovered the kind of macabre and primal energies of this particular object I hoped to  find away to explore that in a very “cheap and cheerful” manner (hence the use of everyday household objects and found items) – the installation is essentially made up of Junk, in contrast to the extravagance of Hirst or High Tech imagery of the Terminator films.

I will continue to explore the possibilities within this framework, possibly attaching LEDs or other lights, however my instinct is to go as low-tech as possible and keep the simplicity of a single light against a basic rig of ropes and plastics for a core elemental impact of an object which is simultaneously alive & dead, human & mechanised, totemic & spiritual but made from junk.

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