Earthworks is an immersive artwork by Semiconductor (Joe Gerhardt and Ruth Jarman) is being exhibited at Fabrica, Brighton’s Contemporary Art Centre, until Sun 22 Nov.
A five-channel computer generated animation, the work creates an immersive experience of the phenomena of landscape formation through the scientific and technological devices that are used to study it. Masses of colourful layers are animated by the soundscapes of earthquake, volcanic, glacial and human activity, recorded as seismic waves, which form spectacular fluctuating marbled waveforms. The 20 metre screen zig-zags through the space taking over the entire gallery.
Earthworks makes tangible the immense natural forces captured by seismic data and tackles the way in which geological and human processes are inextricably linked in the Anthropocene.
Semiconductor, who are based in Brighton, and have exhibited work internationally, employed the scientific technique of Analogue Modelling, which uses layers of real world multi-coloured particles and application of pressure and motion to make the film. As the layers become deformed, they reproduce the generation and evolution of landscapes in nature over thousands of years, revealing them to be in a constant state of flux.
“In our work we are interested in exploring the material nature of the physical world and how we experience it through the lens of science and technology,” they explain. “With this work we want to create an experience of the phenomena of landscape formation through the languages that are made to study it. By using seismic data to control the Geo-Models we are not only playing with the idea that it is these actions that have shaped landscapes, but also that being an event that occurs beyond a human-time frame, landscape formation can only be experienced through scientific technological mediation of nature. It produces information about time, space and phenomena that no human consciousness could possibly have witnessed.”
The accompanying audio is rich and full of the intricacies of the dynamics of our planet in motion. By using seismic data to control the masses of layers Semiconductor also play with the idea that it is these forces that have shaped landscapes. It is as if we are watching hundreds of thousands of years played out in front of our eyes, enabling us to bear witness to events which ordinarily occur on geological time-frames.
“Exhibiting this artwork now is both important and timely. Earthworks positions the scale of extractive human activity,” adds Liz Whitehead, Fabrica Director.”…such as mining, alongside the awesome natural phenomenon of earthquakes, glacial movements and volcanoes, emphasising that we truly are in the Anthropocene – the geological age of the human. As we make our way through the coronavirus pandemic into a new economic crisis, it’s important not to forget the environmental crisis still at hand.”
By adopting the analogue modelling techniques, the work celebrates the revelatory capacities of modern science and technologies to create a kind of technological sublime, whilst simultaneously inviting viewers to consider the philosophical problems posed by such technologically mediated observations of imperceptible phenomena
Fabrica is a contemporary art gallery in the heart of Brighton’s historic Lanes. Based in the former Holy Trinity Church, Fabrica responds to the building and its history through a programme of site-specific exhibitions and a diverse engagement programme, using creative and social activity to provoke investigation into how audiences look at the world.
Fabrica has worked with artists ranging from Anish Kapoor, Brian Griffiths, and Kaarina Kaikkonen to Brian Eno, David Shrigley, Ipek Duben, Alfredo Jaar and Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva.
The capacity of the gallery has been limited to 12. There may be queuing outside the gallery due to the limited capacity.
Fabrica are trying to keep everyone who enters the building safe and will therefore be asking everyone to wear masks, hand sanitize on entry and follow social distancing guidelines. Track and trace measures will be in effect on entry and we will be asking everyone to leave their details.
Earthworks was commissioned by SónarPLANTA and produced by Advanced Music in 2016. Seismic data courtesy of the Iris (Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology) Consortium
Earthworks comes to Fabrica, 40 Duke St, Brighton BN1 1AG, until Thurs 22 Nov 2020 (open Weds – Sat 12-6pm, Sun 2-6pm, closed Mon & Tues)