‘The idea of the Human can only come from elsewhere, not from itself – the inhuman is the only evidence for it’.1
Today’s sculptural practice takes on the expanded technical range of representation in the digital era. These newfound capabilities have endowed us with increasingly precise control of materials, from the visible field to the particulate and the molecular. Associated with such mastery, analogues of real space – alterable to degrees unlimited by physical conditions (except processor speed) – facilitate transitions from index to remix, single to multiple, copy to version. Advances at the intersection of mechanics and chemistry mean that such virtual items can then make the move (back) into material by 3d printing, nano-technology etc.
The collapse of physicality into information – along with our redefined notions of place – mean that an object can be distributed throughout various modes of space and time simultaneously. The distinction between the model for a sculpture and the sculpture itself is increasingly vague. The age of relations between discrete entities is passing, and a practice that foregrounds the continuum is emerging.
The rhetoric of the continuum allows for the generative moment(s) of a sculpture to proceed by chemical reactions etc: Our deeper scientific understanding of material processes – such as interactions on the biological/mineral plane – underpin strategies of artist-independent object development. They also suggest a wider temporal (and hence spatial) frame – perhaps accounting for a turn towards pre-historical, archaeological, geological and cosmic themes. Such fields are suggestive of organic complexity, messiness, and ungraspability, offering a useful foil to pit against the hygienic and functionalist techno-fetishism of mainstream digital culture.
1. Jean Baudrillard, Fragments.