Tutorial with Chris Short; 08/02/16 – Poison and Beauty

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I was lucky enough to have two tutorials today; one with Chris short, and another with Stefhan Caddick. I will go over each tutorial in turn, starting with Chris. The tutorial with Chris was very helpful; after discussing the nature of my work, we spoke about where it could go from the present. Discussing the nature of beauty and abjection; and how the crystal structures that I have been making  almost ‘beautiful’, are aesthetically pleasing, but don’t have the same power that a more ‘abstract’ form does. There is a sense of the ‘Gothic’ within the darker sculptures I have been making; involving the Deep red colouration of the Ferricyanide crystals, or the skulls and wings that I have been using. As the object is somewhat formless, it allows different images and connotations to surface within the mind of the viewer. I intend to explore this through the use of decaying matter, instead of preserved matter. The formlessness of a decaying body prompts revulsion within the viewer, but they are at once drawn to the sublime beauty of the crystals growing on the form.  This idea of Form vs. formlessness resolves itself less readily in the mind of the viewer, and therefore becomes more challenging; prompting the audience to slow down, and spend time debating on what they see in the form.

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                                             Mycelium – note the threads that spread outwards; fusing like a giant spiderweb

(Image taken from; https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/52/Mycelium_RH_(8).jpg)

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The Growth pattern of Mycelium outwards from a Spore (black dot)

(Image taken from; https://www.anbg.gov.au/fungi/images-misc/mycelium/myceliumg.gif)

This apprehension felt when encountering the form can be attributed to an atmosphere of danger surrounding the object. Human beings know to stay away from decaying matter due to diseases such as anthrax, as well as the common cultural tradition of leaving corpses alone out of respect. This notion of disease, and of Poison, is something that I had not thought about in relation to y work; but seems to fit in extremely well. The crystals themselves are synthetic, created with chemicals in a lab, and even though they are not poisonous due to their low leel of toxicity, there are still connotations of them being hazardous to a human’s body. This is mainly due to the way that the crystal mass spreads out from the source of the solution; covering and almost ‘consuming’ the objects it encounters with it’s crystalline mass. The way that the ‘threads’ of the mass spread out and join over the surface of the object resembles ‘mycelium’, and the crystals seem to resemble mushrooms; growing up from the threads. There is also some resemblance to mould and dry rot, and this adds another angle of revulsion to this strange, synthetic growth that I have been manufacturing.

I am really interested in this aspect of ‘poison’, and the apparent threat that these chemical crystals, and the decaying matter of an organism, hold. Especially how the crystals are synthetic, and yet act like so many natural organisms; consuming, and choking an object or area in their white, thread-like mass.

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