Records and Wireframes: NEON Festival, CentreSpace, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition

Abstract

Wireframe Valley (remade, 2017) was selected for inclusion within a joint exhibition with Paul Walde. Wireframe Valley (remade, 2017) is a real time simulation landscape that gradually decays to reveal its wireframe basis over the duration of the exhibition. It is not video or film, but a software program created with a game engine. The duration changes depending on the length of the exhibition. In this case, it was screened for 14 days.

Records and Wireframes presents moving image works by artists Paul Dolan (UK) and Paul Walde (Canada) alongside skeletal remains of the extinct Tasmanian Tiger, on loan from the collection of the University of Dundee’s D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum. Curated for NEoN by artist Kelly Richardson to accompany her exhibition at DCA, ‘The Weather Makers’, ‘Records and Wireframes’ explores themes around climate change and screen culture with allusions to the past, present and future.

In the expansive video installation Requiem for a Glacier (2013), Paul Walde memorialises British Columbia’s Jumbo Glacier, or “Qat’muk”, now under immediate threat from global warming and resort development. The work shows a four-movement oratorio performed by an orchestra and chorus atop the area’s Farnham Glacier. Over thirty-seven minutes, Requiem for a Glacier features panoramic glacier views alongside the oratorio that was composed by converting data such as temperature records for the area, into musical notation.

The theme of disappearing landscapes, and data as a form of media archaeological artifact, continues in Paul Dolan’s real-time video work, Wireframe Valley (2017), which presents the gradual disappearance of a digitally constructed landscape, revealing its virtual origins. The defining features of the landscape degrade over the exact duration of the exhibition. In the context of global warming, where the physical planet is increasingly incapable of sustaining life as we know it, our refuge amongst digital environments may not placate us for long.

Should we fail to alter our course, predictions for the fallout from large-scale, unchecked industry are nothing short of terrifying. Some scientists believe that a 6th mass extinction event is already underway through the “biological annihilation” of wildlife in recent decades. Recent studies suggest that the Tasmanian Tiger’s extinction in the 1930s was itself caused by drought.[1] Due to human overpopulation and overconsumption, roughly 50% of the earth’s wildlife population has been lost during our lifetime. A recently published study in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences forgoes the usual sober tone and refers to the gravity of the loss as a “frightening assault on the foundations of human civilisation”. [2]

Carrying on from themes explored in Kelly Richardson’s exhibition The Weather Makers at DCA, Records and Wireframes shows the work of artists who, through their art, are creating digital records expressing how we understand our world today. These art works, like the fragmented thylacine skull, may become artifacts that future archaeologists consider in their search to appreciate how, in 2017, inhabitants of Earth understood the global environmental crisis facing them.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/sep/28/tasmanian-tigers-on-australian-mainland-killed-off-by-drought

[2] Gerardo Ceballos, Paul R. Ehrlich, and Rodolfo Dirzo (2017) ‘Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signalled by vertebrate population losses and declines’ Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. See http://www.pnas.org/content/114/30/E6089 Accessed: 25/09/17.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherNEoN Ltd
Media of outputFilm
Size1920x1080
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2017

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