Orders of Magnitude – Potato Powered Cosmos – 2016.
‘Shifting Territories’, Triangle Space, UAL: Chelsea, London
Installation: vegetative matter, copper, zinc, wire, speaker, water, Theremin, tone generator, amp, stainless steel unit, live projection on TV, camera, magnifying lamp.
Chelsea College of Arts is pleased to present Shifting Territories, an exhibition which aims to blur the boundaries between art and science and respond to the topic of forced displacement of people caused by climate change.
Shifting Territories will run from Thursday 14th April to 21st April in The Triangle Space at Chelsea College of Arts.
Chris Wainwright, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges of Art
David Webster, Associate Dean of Learning and Teaching at Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges of Art
Faron Ray, Graduate of BA Fine Art, Chelsea College of Arts
Gorm Ashurst, Art Director and Graphic Designer
Lucy Orta, Chair of Art in the Environment, University of the Arts London
Maggie Halsackda, Graduate of BA Interior and Spatial Design, Chelsea College of Arts
Michael Hoch, Physicist, Artist and founder of Art@CMS, CERN
Ouyang Yangyi, Graduate of BA Fine Art, Chelsea College of Arts
Rachael Nee, Graduate of MA Fine Art, Chelsea College of Arts
Sophie Pradere, Graduate of MA Curating & Collections
Contextual statement written by
Professor Chris Wainwright, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges of Art
One of the hardest things to comprehend about CERN and the work going on there is exactly what its purpose is and how what comes out of it can have a meaningful connection with improving our lives. My somewhat reductive understanding so far is that the scientists are looking to discover and understand things that we can’t see because they occupy a space beyond visual and material measurement. Should they discover them, we might then have a clearer understanding of the universe. It’s something to do with Dark Matter i.e. that which exists between matterthat does not have a form of materiality. Of course beyond the scientific focus, the cutting edge and emerging technologies involved in such discovery processes, have an immense value in the transferability of their development to broader use which may to some extent excuse the monumental financial investment in CERN.
So, coming back up to the surface after the largely invisible and subterranean world of CERN, crossing the city of Geneva and entering the portals of the United Nations, different agendas seem to be playing out. A global set of concerns for people and the planet and a myriad of initiatives, all centred on policy and legislative based discourse charting the evidence of the plight of peoples across the world. There is a huge helping of differential political positioning, of inequality of resources, wealth, population levels, and fragility. Never more so when the focus is climate change as evidenced by the recent Nansen Initiative Global Summit held in Geneva, focusing on action to support displaced people through the effects of climate and environmental disruption.
At this point a link appears to me between the search for things like Dark Matter at CERN and addressing the effects of climate change, as both are broadly elusive and immense. We are dealing with what Timothy Morton calls hyperobjects in ‘Hyperobjects, Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World’ University of Minnesota Press 2013. He proposes that hyperobjects are entities of such vast temporal and spatial dimensions that they defeat traditional ideas about what a thing is in the first place. This is of particular relevance when discussing climate change as to many of us it is something pretty abstract or at best, far away. The effect of a 0.5 degree rise in sea temperature instance is not easily visioned, or what 400 parts carbon dioxide per million particles in the atmosphere looks like right now, even though science tells us that this is a critical level and human life on earth as we know it will be affected should we fail to address the trend of increasing human activity induced levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Climate change is a complex ‘object’ to categorise and subject to an endless shifting of focus as new data is produced analysed, modified, challenged and messaged. It’s so big that it effects all our lives yet we have difficulty in comprehending it, environmentally, ethically, politically and culturally.
Morton suggests, ‘Hyperobjects profoundly change the way we think about any object’. In a strange way, every object is a hyperobject. But we can only think this thought in the light of the ecological emergency inside of which we have now woken up’. Heidegger said that only a god can save us now. As we find ourselves waking up within a series of gigantic objects, we realize that he forgot to add: ‘we just don’t know what sort of god’.