Oil rituals for the future #6 (2018) attends to the material qualities of oil itself, and how they formally contribute to its pervasiveness both economically and culturally. The work is made of paraffin wax, a hydrocarbon derived from petroleum. Paraffin wax was discovered in 1830, transforming home illumination, and it continues to be used in food, beauty products, and manufacturing. Contained in nylon stockings (the first synthetic material, derived from petroleum in a DuPont research lab in 1935), the sculptures are designed to melt in concert with the heat conditions of the truck gallery. This slow and unpredictable transformation mirrors oil’s mutability and relentless impact on the cultural formation of the body.
The title Thekla is taken from a city described in Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities as endlessly built and rebuilt by its citizens, using the patterns of stars as blueprint. The artists of the exhibition, like the citizens of Calvino’s city, reflect on the vastness of the universe in our material realities. In their investigations of both darkness and light, the artists in Thekla create experiences for viewers in which the mind can rest, overwhelmed by it’s contemplation of the infinite.
Cloud Points: A Derivative of Crude Illumination is a site specific paraffin feedback loop, crude oil transmission pipeline. Installed and exhibited from 8/26/2016-9/4/16 during a Wave Farm artist residency, Cloud Points explores alternative oil ontologies, crude oil as media, and the entangled history of crude oil as medicinal spiritual ointment as well as material energy source derived from latent solar radiation. Paraffin waxy build up in oil pipelines reduces flow capacity, yet the paraffin hydrocarbon was also used as leverage by both mystics and industrialists to argue for crude oil extraction due to a shared biology with human blood flow. As a result, paraffin both enabled and sabotaged human oil extraction and pipeline growth. Cloud Points points towards the poetics of crude oil flow both as part of the signal path of the electromagnetic spectrum, thus a carrier wave of information, and as early technology infrastructure that shapes much of the physical and ideological infrastructure of the contemporary landscape.
Signal materialism and information embodiment illuminates invisible subject-hood formulation. A deep viewing of Crude Illumination reveals the complex relationship of petropolitics and climate change as a projected signal flow of decaying material technologies and western ideologies – in other words, a myth, a fiction, a haunting dance of ineffable light. As oil sublimates carbon dioxide into our environment, the cloud disperses information everywhere.