Material exists before form and function arrive and supplant; it persists when they leave. This simple, enduring quality might instil trust in daily human experience: when we see water flow, feel mud between our toes, taste salt or hear rocks grinding—perhaps we believe we are privy to the reality, the truth of the material. Yet scientific understandings of material, of matter, constantly flex and flux. Beneath our feet the ground moves; indeterminacy remains the persistent quality in the world.
How might we experience the world? According to cognitive psychologist Donald Hoffman, any organism survives only because truth regarding the world is unavailable to it . Senses telling about the world, and modes of understanding the world, are equipped purely to facilitate survival. If the senses tell any truth, the organism cannot survive, suggesting that humans inhabit worlds bearing no likeness to reality. Neuroscientists such as Anil Seth contend that it is not incoming sense signals, but ‘top-down’ signals that primarily constitute perception . These top-down signals, deriving from the brain itself, are best-guess predictions and projections of the world.
To interrogate ways in which material and matter can be understood I seek states of transition and thresholds of uncertainty. Through extended observation of material interaction and behaviour, I aim to capture metamorphic junctures: instants when materials interact in unforeseen ways and may seem to be caught in the act. There is perhaps a vulnerability in these transformative moments that belies the material.
Considering this, my work prospects the denial of simple materials and material interactions, inviting engagement in a place of uncertainty. In denial, I aim to draw deeper into illusive simplicity; the nexus of human expectation and human limitation that obscures unimaginable complexity. The proposition: seemingly simple material environments offer a bridge in developing language and reimagining qualities, free of anchoring assumptions.
Changes of state and energy are buried within ceramic and metallurgic processes. Integrating the associative histories of these materials into my practice, both material present and material absent determine what becomes apparent. I use sculpture as allusion without compass. An operative language, an apparent state of entity exploring the provisionality of matter. Through this, I speculate, material indeterminacy might be glimpsed, free of anchoring assumptions, offering new reconciliation with the perceived world.
1] Hoffman, Donald (2019) The Case Against Reality: How Evolution Hid the Truth From Our Eyes. Allen Lane/Penguin Random House, London.
2] Seth, Anil K (2019) From Unconscious Inference to the Beholder’s Share: Predictive Perception and Human Experience. European Review 27(3):1-33