The first images forming a conceptual shift using the scraps of cardboard and other assorted material that typically constitute my dioramas. Whereas before these objects would represent allusive and metaphorical subjects for artworks, here the material is re-conceived as archaeological artefacts: they have become objects to document; a factual record of both current and past activity. Found in the studio and incorporated, embedded in cement, the detritus forms the sediment of future dioramas, repeatedly buried and lost, only to be again rediscovered. The act of excavating the buried debris from the cement thus becomes performative; the recovery and subsequent display of the objects indexical and unmistakably archaeological.
Photos showing the progression from scratch-built cardboard model, to its positioning in cement, with two variations of lighting (the ‘vignette’ was achieved by piercing a small square of tape, and fixing it over the camera of my iPhone). The design of the model was influenced chiefly by the German V2 rockets of World War Two, and space rockets typical of early science fiction films (‘The Quatermass Experiment’, for example). I decided to only construct the lower fuselage simply to allow me to suggest the rest of the rocket as being buried on impact. The model is made entirely from cardboard packaging, including the lettering and numerals, and painted with enamel spray paints. Finally, damage was created with a candle flame, which proved very effective in simulating charring across the surface of the rocket.
But why a rocket? And why crashed? These images represent the embryonic stages of a project that critically examines ideas surrounding progress and speculative futures. Using models as sources for artworks, I intend to interrogate the resurgence of interest in space exploration and, specifically, a return to the Moon. With several nations either maintaining or developing space programs, the renewed enthusiasm and investment may connote a broader trend to reinvigorate a stalled or lost sense of progress, forward momentum, or simply to restore hope in the future (humanity’s search for redemption on distant worlds). The journey into space can be seen as an attempt to recapture the stated aims and principles of modernism, and again discover the continuing upward curve of advancement, ambition and technological innovation. A new frontier is sought, or an old one re-packaged. The rocket fallen back to earth signifies the illusion and ultimate failure of progress, with devastation and ruin following in its wake. In the light of this, the rocket is not only a manned vessel of exploration and escape, but also a missile that has failed to detonate. Whether vessel or warhead, both can be said to deliver the same payload.
‘Folly (noun) – a building in the form of a castle, temple, etc, built to satisfy a fancy or conceit, often of an eccentric kind’ (Collins Dictionary).
‘Folly (Contrived Ruin #1)' and ‘Folly (Contrived Ruin #2)', charcoal drawings made from models of cardboard, cork and cement. While considering titles for these works, it occurred to me that the structures I build in the studio could also be described as 'follies’ in the architectural sense: they are made solely for effect and the expression of an idea (metaphor and playful indulgence as opposed to utility), belying the physical realities of their construction. They have the character of 'cut-outs’, 2 dimensional facades, an ornamental edifice intended to be viewed only from one location. In other words, an illusion, a sham.