It’s been two years since my last open studio in Cornwall. Since then my efforts to harness the processes of electrochemical reactions for creative expression have developed somewhat.
The repurposing of old picture frames has provided an ideal ‘container’ and means of displaying new works.
Various experiments with metals, materials and solutions have also led to formulae and methods for producing multiples.
What I find most fascinating and inspiring is how the work develops and evolves over time, no two reactions being the same, producing very different ‘scenes’.
I say scenes as this is the envisaged result, by choosing the appropriate metals and their arrangement and specific solutions, I can create the conditions for emergent reactions that suggest naturalistic landscapes, rock formations, hills and trees, underwater scenes.
Creating a small scale exhibition for a viewing public has also challenged me in how to convey the time based processes that is hidden in a single viewing of a work where the appearance of a work can vary from one day to another.
I gain great pleasure in visiting each work everyday to see how it has changed. Its akin to watching a plant grow, except here there is always an element of surprise, no two reactions ever produce the exact same result.
How to convey this emergent process to a viewer who is seeing the work for the first time with no memory of how it looked when it was first created?
One method that attempts to convey the changing appearance of a work has been the use of digital timelapse, using a Web cam and time lapse software. Below are two short time lapse videos of the works illustrated above, V1 and V3.
Timelapse video of V1 Reaction, 2 minute duration depicting electrochemical reactions over 17 days, 1/4 – 18/4 2022, 1 frame taken every 5 minutes.
Timelapse video of V3 Reaction, 2 minute duration depicting electrochemical reactions over 7 days, 12/5 – 19/5 2022, 1 frame taken every 5 minutes.
The timelapse does illustrate a sample of the electrochemical processing, however it does not have the immediacy or presence of a live viewing.
In 2001, during an art residency at CEMA, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, I created an installation entitled ‘The Preservation of Entropy’.
The installation used electrochemical processes to alter three metals (iron, copper, aluminium) in three hand made glass flasks containing three solutions (acid, alkaline, salt).
The reactions generated changing electric signals which were monitored and recorded using bespoke software. The installation was located in a thoroughfare and received regular visitors who would see the work change every day.
I also wanted to capture and convey the changing processes remotely. To achieve this I used a timelapse technique where a webcam frame of one of the glass vessels was uploaded to a remote server such that people could watch a growing time lapse video, recorded from day one.
I am planning on creating a new ‘live installation’ that amalgamates techniques inherent in my recent works with the concept of ‘an electrochemical process time lapse broadcast’ derived from ‘The Preservation of Entropy’.
Pingback: Alchemy, emergence and creativity | The Artifacts of DrB