I knew it would define us more than we would define it.
Our conditions depend on it, the power of its energy is overpowering.
We experience it indirectly.
Sometimes it smells like the garage, it is golden yellow and rests beautifully on the water’s surface.
How does it experience us?
After all, it used to be something living,
it is stored energy from the Sun,
the primal element of modern times.
Matter of Experience is an experimental portrait of fossil fuels, namely crude oil. The installation explores the materiality of oil as well as its origin and spiritual presence. Matter of Experience is a term formulated by Antti Salminen and Tere Vadén in their book “Energy and Experience”. It refers to the inseparability of oil from the identity of contemporary humans and their understanding of the world.
Through the installation I have also explored animistic worldviews and their understanding of the agency of natural elements. Could this material – oil – be seen as an animistic divinity, whose force and symbiosis with contemporary humanity might need some appeasing?
The iridescent effect seen as drops of oil form thin layers on the surface of water acted as a starting point for the work. As light refracts off of the surface the oil is perceived as all colours of the prism. I also explore the relationship between oil and water through the choice of materials for the installation. Water has been a vital condition for ancient fossils whereas now crude oil and water, if mixed, have devastating consequences.
Materials of the installation are: plexiglass, epoxy resin with bone black pigment, water, motor oil, varnish, infusion drips, screens, videos, liquid pump, Arduino, bright light therapy lamps.
The installation was exhibited at Kuvan Kevät 2020, Graduation show of University of the Arts Helsinki.