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Permanent link (DOI): https://doi.org/10.7939/R3MK65972
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From the Surface Open Access
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Sean Caulfield, Supervisor
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From the Surface is an exhibition haunted by the presence of the global ecological crisis. As I implicate the viewer in a web of associations between word, image, and thing, I invite contemplation of our place in a changing world. I seek to unsettle the comfortable illusion that humanity is separate from nature, exploring instead the anxiety of being inextricably embedded in a context that is radically and unwittingly being transformed by our own hands.
Through a chance-based practice of found-object collection and display, I search for unforeseen materials gathered from the ground to participate as subjects in my work. The resulting collection is an assortment of artifact-like objects, many which were formerly overlooked, discarded, or forgotten. More specifically, they are fragments – worn pieces of things that have broken down and dispersed, travelling across unknown distances. The gesture of collecting marks a momentary acknowledgement of coexistence between humans and things within the context of unfolding ecological crisis. As a group, the objects act as a humble reminder of that context, in which the dream of human dominion over nature is called into question. In a broad sense, my collecting practice addresses the tension between the urge to try to exert control over the material world and a sense of being caught under its spell.
Using printmaking, I highlight the potential for unexpected relationships between the objects, bringing them into new formal associations and exchanges. By displaying the objects themselves alongside the prints that derive from them, I construct a network around the viewer, a back and forth between the real, the representational, and the abstract. From the Surface enmeshes the viewer in the struggle to reconcile physical experience with the conceptual realm – lending a heightened sense of reality to a crisis that we know is unfolding, but which tends to lurk in the background of our everyday experience.
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