Pulp Non-fiction

During our explorations of Eco-Art we have found ourselves overlapping and intersecting in many, often surprising, ways. Here we discuss a ‘sculpture triangle’ that happened over Time and Material. We introduce: ‘Private Member’, ‘Network’ and ‘Eggsbox’.

Private Member February~ongoing, 2019 (Torn paper, PVA, and black nail varnish)

This piece came about through addressing a mounting problem. How to dispose of private papers? Shred, burn, pulp? I am not keen on putting bank statements, personal identity data, eco-plots and the like into the standard recycle process. Therefore I keep a bag where I put my private papers until the time comes for their disposal. Up until now, I had been burning these piles in my incinerator. Burning is not practicable in my current situation, besides it is a questionable activity from an ecological perspective—so I was looking for alternative methods. Ursula suggested that I soak them in water for a while until they lose their identities. I tore the papers up and mulched them down. The next problem that arose was what to do with the coarse pulp? I decided to fashion a sculpture, and let it dry it out once more, bringing the paper full-circle into a dried, flammable, state. Full-circle, but irretrievably altered through a uni-directional transformation. More like a quantum-shifted spiral.

During the building process, a whole set of private resonances began to evolve: the material, the shape, a new identity. The idea of putting something private, not to be seen by anyone, in front of the public gaze became an exciting prospect. I felt an instant affinity with Ursula’s life-modelling occupation. We had discussed the differences between nude and naked: sometimes it might be embarrassing to reveal too much in public (naked), whereas in an appropriate context it would be totally acceptable (nude). Thus Private Member was born, an object-led entity made entirely of private things. All that was required was a pair of eyes… a kind of nude bird without a Bill…

We have a vid of his birth that shows that in his wet state his ‘face’ was on another side. Only when he had dried did it become clear where he actually was. Two depressions told me where to put the nail varnish. I was going to put dots but the initial over-zealous loading of the brush dictated that the depression was filled to the brim with liquid. The next one followed suit. It was only then that I noticed that a random barcode scrap had become his mouth.  

Private Member has already started to develop a personality through his early outings, and he readily gravitates towards the private in all its forms: signs, locks, fences, partitions and demarcations. 

His excursions so far have coincided with fine weather and I have noticed he has a peculiar property revealed by my phone’s camera. The auto-exposure setting does not cope with his brilliance in direct sunlight, and he often turns out overexposed! Initially, I thought I would compensate by correcting the metering mode, but on second thoughts, given his constitution, it seemed fitting.  

Made entirely of private things, he hides in plain sight. He fears not over-exposure.

Network to Eggsbox

I had been working with nets: the kind of nets I mean are those in which oranges are, or onions, tomatoes, garlic and the like. It was one of my ideas for eco-art, using rubbish articles as an aesthetic with provocation. With nets the double-meaning (or triple, or more) was the idea of a catch. Those nets look like mini-fishing nets, and this is what I fished out of society, or rather out of commercial production: the mode that penetrates our society, the mode that makes the rubbish that we can’t get rid off. What kind of catch then, do such nets represent? I took those nets, together with their brand-names and their barcodes, and appropriated them for myself. Photographing these nets on the beach near me amplified their fishing-net look. I put stones in them, pebbles from the beach, and placed them on larger stones, on the sand or on a tree branch. 

When my net-collection increased, I decided to put the nets together on a string, and then realised that the finished product was a ‘network’! The day I did this, by sheer coincidence, Simon had finished his ‘private member’ sculpture, another eco-art creation. And so my ‘Network’ and his ‘Private Member’ became twins!

Apart from putting pebbles into my nets and then the Network, I also put pebbles into an old egg-box – I found that they looked just like eggs. Stone Eggs! And then there was Easter, so they were posing as Easter Eggs as well. I went down to the beach again to photograph them. As I placed them on a stone, with the water coming in behind it, it looked like this peculiar egg-box had just been stranded. So I gave this picture a title: ‘Easter has arrived with the last high tide, and then been exposed as the water receded.’  Placing the pebbles in the box became an interesting kind of interesting act of displacement, as well as an enactment of a metamorphosis (stone to egg). I always collect pebbles when on a beach, as their beauty and energy fascinates me. Occasionally I attach googly eyes to them, to bring out a comical combination between found objects and my interventions with them. So in this box, it looked like those stones with eyes attached to them were hatched eggs! Also, EggsBox is an intended counter-reference to the computer game Xbox, in an effort to get away from computers and into outdoors and DIY ideas.

On returning home, I was reading up on egg-boxes and found that they are made of pulp. Pulp! That was just the stuff that Simon made his ‘Private Member’ of. So now the earlier twinning of Private Member with Network had been superseded by this Stone Egg Box. Pulp is our common denominator – thus they have been nominated as twins; and ‘pulptures’! Only that the Eggsbox got wet and has disintegrated since, so it’s been an ephemeral sculpture. The Network is still there, however, and growing.

Our investigations with pulp, pebbles and nets continue, in particular we are fascinated with the transformational power of representations of the eye and with private/public dialectics. Watch this spacetime…

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