- Material World, Sherman Galleries, Sydney, Australia 2002
Catalogue essay accompnying the exhibition of these works entitled "Material World" at Sherman Galleries, Sydney, Australia 2001
If we fashion a thing, it is produced by nature and if nature produces a thing, it is fashioned by us.
Aristotle, Physics 2.8
Welcome to my Nightmare, This is Religion, Back in Black, Heart of Glass, Ummagumma ripping through the back of D's van as we hurtle towards a favourite hangout spot in a local bushland valley. My prostrate form slides over the floor, eyes staring up at the vivid heat-hazed orchard with swirling Van Gogh sky.
Derelict Victorian gas works with cast-iron Corinthian columns, multicoloured power and communication cables ordered into perforated metal trays that follow the contours of the black brick sides of the railway cuttings, Morris floral motifs cast into the iron superstructures of Kings Cross and St Pancras, bramble and ivy-choked wastelands between railway marshalling yards.
The house we moved into had a bedroom that had been occupied by one of the previous family's daughters. I remember the faintly perfumed ivory cupboards with vinyl Rococo-flowery drawer lining inside. The house was wallpapered with a powdery green leaf-pattern.
I have been gathering source material in the form of cuttings, leaves and bits of plants from gardens, vacant blocks and roadsides, vegetables from my weekly organic food delivery, circuit boards, fragments of wallpaper and linoleum, as well as other cast-off domestic items. I scan them into the computer at high resolution and tessellate them into repetitive patterns.
Big Charlie Bubblegum stickers encrusted the inside of my Globite fibreglass suitcase - bloodshot slavering and pustulated mutants crammed into hotrods with chrome extractors bulging from fat-wheeled bonnets. P, my school-buddy, went about fantasising he was blonde and tall so he could kick young Jews like himself with impunity and be liked.
Some of the imagery comes from the internet, lifted off web pages, grainy and distorted from too much compression. In Panspermia, this terrible signal to noise ratio gives a claustrophobic artifice to the final image, reinforcing the fact that it is only a collection of pixels. This 'outer space' is rendered flatter than the pinpricked vault of the ancient Egyptian cosmos.
'The dinosaurs died out in late nineteenth-century America' proclaims a creationist website based in Kansas. A link to a Flat Earth Society URL amplifies the sense of a universe glued together by pure belief. 'If you did not see them [the dinosaurs] how do you know they were there?' Infinite variations of these contemporary cosmologies are spread via the spiritual, i.e. virtual, non-physical medium of the internet. Some revert to a pre-modern almost Dantean moral geography; the entrance to the underworld is to be found near Jerusalem; the bones of the Saurians were laid down in the great flood.
Anatomical appropriations, vascular systems, brain tissue, prosciutto-thin cross-sections of the human body lifted from historical anatomical atlases, Vesalius, Gray and others, cut up and altered so as to be ambiguous as to their exact source. Skin flaps pulled open by forceps to reveal organs and tubing shifted out of the way, probing innermost cavities.
A tilted slab of old concrete rests at the base of a council flat beneath the constant drip of high-up heating tubes. From the slab grows a profusion of worts, mosses and tatty grass - a contained world sufficient for its own purposes. One of these days I might hire a truck and take it back to the studio.
Simeon Nelson, London 2002