Tamami Iinuma 2012
The Crystal World Exhibition, Opening Thursday August 2nd 2012, 7pm+ The White Building, Hackney Wick, London
The White Building, Unit 7, Queen's Yard, 43 White Post Lane, London, E9 5EN
The absolute silence of the vegetation along the banks and the deep prismatic glow almost convinced him that the entire earth had been transformed and that any progress through this crystal world had become pointless.
J.G. Ballard, The Crystal World
The Serpent that announces, “The World is a closed thing, cyclical, resonant, eternally-returning,” is to be delivered into a system whose only aim is to violate the Cycle.
Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow
The Crystal World Exhibition is a constructivist installation assembled from computer waste and selected minerals semi-automated as a cybernetic parody to escalate and draw attention to entropy (the movement from order into chaos) within the crystalline pathologies of both base mineral and constructed computer.
The opening will feature performances by Douglas Park, Ryan Jordan, Martin Howse and others.
A bare construction of wasted computers is supported above standing reservoirs of electrolytes, lab soups, augmented canal water and synthetic rain. Leaky feeds drip these solutions to dope (change electrical properties with the addition of impurities) the construction with excitable sites of precipitation and dissolution, altering metals through corrosion, provoking auditory avalanches and the slow growth of semi-conducting algae, moss, and mushrooms.
Areas around the installation present the resuscitation of a lost potentiality through modelling the axon hillock area of a neuron, a slow earth computing device, and a mine in a garden pot.
The axon hillock initiates the firing of action potentials (electrical messages between brain cells), and in neuroscience hardware models of the brain are replicated using common electronic components such as transistors. In The Crystal World early transistor mimicking circuits were built using Chalcopyrite, a copper iron sulphide mineral, and three “cats whiskers” of copper wire salvaged from junk computers. In the installation these transistors are combined based on schematics of the axon hillock circuit with tubes of crystalline and mineral solutions replacing wire connections in a crude mirroring of blood vessels to build an artificial life. The axon hillock sends an irregular audible output to let us know it is functioning. Over the course of the exhibition it may die as its arteries become clogged with crystal formations which may cause the electrical blood flowing through its system to cease.
Within the earth as computer, technology endlessly repeats a closed cycle, a mimed ecology for a damaged nature. Raw materials are mined from the earth, re-configured and re-synthesised, and, pending obsolescence, returned to the earth as industrial waste and pollution. The earth computer short circuits this loop, attempting to embed a becoming-computer within the earth itself, allowing the earth to manipulate and code computational/crystalline structures. Raw minerals, either dissolved or as solid plates are placed within a porous ceramic ¹ /glass structure to be buried within the earth at a location close to Hackney Wick. Over time, it is anticipated that both underground electric currents (telluric flows) and minerals/rainwater leaching through the soil could re-form these base components (some extracted from computer waste) into a functioning earth computer; a machine without wires, without components and without abstractions, operating in the earth and proposing a negative ecology, a true earth animism.
Earth mineral electro-crystallizations are further examined in the mine in a garden pot, an updated versioning of early nineteenth century experimenter Andrew Crosse's hermetic work on electricity. Contemporary solutions used in processor manufacture are slowly leaked out into an electrified mud of Hackney Wick silt, clay and silicon (the pre-eminent human-made mineral) charging the earth with a transverse deformation of semi-conducting lode formations.
Surrounding tables relate the experimental remains of the preceding Open Laboratory.
¹ with thanks to Basil Olton
The Crystal World Open Laboratory and Exhibition are based on J G Ballard's 1966 novel charting the search for missing friends by a Dr Sanders in Africa. When he arrives at the edge of a jungle he begins to hear rumours of both trees and animals of the forests crystallizing. He slowly witnesses the glaciation of the whole landscape, including its people, and the respite he takes in The White Hotel proves ineffective against an eventual total crystallization as all finally succumb to these structures of control.
Despite the creation of life from four DNA crystals with infinite possibilities, we are also slowly rendered immobile by the computers which order our contemporary lives. The project treats both computers and the minerals from which they are made as groups of highly ordered structures and distorts them through close examination of their material base. Little direct research exists into what minerals are used to make a computer - studies from 1996 suggest 66 or 41 minerals, and IBM were using 54 different periodic elements in their 2005 processors - and any such statistics don't reflect anything of the extraction and re-interment of such minerals into the earth by millions of people in endless chains of dangerous and toxic production.
Civilisation has always extracted elements from the earth to rework for its uses. Computers wilfuly invite open investigation into how to decrystallize, decode and re-encode these pathologies propagated through nature and the psyche.
Over five days, the Crystal World Open Laboratory performed experiments aiming to reconfigure the various mineral components used in computers in novel arrays by deforming their processors and memory combined with ancestral rock ores in powders and in solutions, treated with acid solutions, high heat, high voltage, electrolytic process, photochemistry, and finally saturated in crystallizing baths.