A recurring inspiration within my work over the past two years, Akira focuses on the notion of giving the power of a higher being to a lesser being, effectively casing them to ‘transcend’ their physical limitations through the use of such energy. This is very relevant to my own interests concerning the transcendence of man; especially concerning how technology provides us with more power than we were ever originally meant to have. This began my experiments with the creation of the computers with circulatory systems, as in hindsight, I was trying to create ‘life’ within the machines, through a strictly biological standpoint. This would therefore allow me to extend past my own limitations, on account of imbuing the objects with my own presence; ‘the hand of the artist’.
Roger Hiorn’s processes of Transmutation in his artwork
Roger Hiorns is a fascinating artist; he utilises alchemical symbolism, and an esoteric form of visual language to create his body of work. Engines, Copper Sulphate Crystals, Naked Performers, Fire, Thistles and Brain matter are all used to consider concepts such as transmutation and the nature of consciousness. This rich and diverse set of principles and materials highlight that Hiorns is a man who is as mystifying and mysterious as his artwork. There is something very fascinating about his process, and how he utilises crystallisation and pulverisation to craft artwork about an objects latent power and symbolism, and bringing it forth within his process of creation. I have also been exploring this notion of latent energy and power within objects and materials within my own work, highlighting it with the use of different varieties of crystallisation.
‘The Lightning Field’ – Walter De Maria, 1977 – present
This piece has influenced my current body of work in such a massive way; due to it being a focal point of my dissertation. The minimalist nature of the work, it’s ability to harness and seemingly control natural phenomena such as light, lightning, and energy within it’s minimalist form. I am incredibly interested in these notions of human control and desire; in relation to the notion of transcendence by becoming god-like through harnessing and utilisation of natural phenomena (much like A God would in mythology, as God is utilised as a means of explaining natural phenomena that could not be explained by the more primitive minds of our ancestors). Through this work, De Maria ‘Transcends’ by his ability to control these god-like forces.
As we discussed these concepts, and I was able to go through my creative and conceptual processes, I felt immediately more in tune with what I am investigating within my artistic outputs. What was interesting, was that Andre immediately ‘Got’ what my work was about, and discussed with me the notion of ‘Re-animation’, and how it is relevant to my work; as the materials that I am using are considered ‘dead’, in the sense that the ‘soul’ of the owner has long passed away, I am creating new life from within the objects. As I am technically growing ‘new life’ from these objects, I am making something that is ‘intangible’ (the energy flow of the universe, from dying objects, and eventually into living and growing organisms), into a tangible, and very physical form. This, much like the work of Dr. Frankenstein within Mary Shelley’s novel, am imbuing dead vessels with new life and energy. Here, the hand of the artist has taken on the hand of a God, and is continuing the cycle of Life, Death and Rebirth.
Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus
Another massive influence on my current work is Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’. Within it, Victor Frankenstein harnesses the power of a God (nature) to bend to his will and allow him to transcend into the role of the creator. There are a lot of symbolic themes within the work that are relevant to my studio practice; Fire, Sacrifice, Enlightenment, nature’s wrath, the ever recurring cycle of Life, Death and Rebirth, as well as notions of transcendence, isolation, and the maddening pursuit of unattainable knowledge (with some occult and alchemical motifs to boot). A story about human failings and the desire to be something more, it has become a firm staple of inspiration for the crystallising of Dead matter.
The Frame; a symbol of control and harnessing
As I work around synthesising a process which is found in nature, based around a trinity of natural phenomena; decomposition, crystallisation and the strike of lightning, I find that through the act of ‘framing’ the object, I can better symbolise this attempt at ‘control’ that I am exerting over it through a relatable, established image. This image of the ‘cage’ references vitrines, as well as the idea of a vitrine removing the personal level one feels with an object behind glass. I want the work to be experienced, despite being contained; it’s fragile form protected, and harnessed, within the frame’s embrace. The frame is a method of constraint, but also of encasement. Inspired by the work of Francis Bacon, and his ‘psychological frames’ that he used to enclose his flesh-like, tortured and energetic subjects. Likewise, I have utilised the frame as a means of ensnaring the phenomena of decomposition and growth within a steel frame.