We are in the Anthropocene. An era signified by human impact on the natural world. It is climate change and the decimation of natural resources; it is the world around us and its increasing precariousness at our hands. In a series of new works, British artist Mat Chivers leaves us to ponder our destructive influence, and to heighten our physical connection to our world.
In Circle Drawing — a performative component central to this body of work — a traditional Japanese form of ritualised erotic bondage, Shibari, is employed to symbolise this sensual connection. Where a rope of natural fibre is traditionally used by one of the Shibari practitioners (the Kinbakushi), here Chivers replaces it with the same fibre optic cabling used to transmit information by international digital networks.
As she is bound, the receiver draws a circle, which becomes increasingly difficult as the traditional performance progresses; the complications of life in the digital age played out to a live sound work produced in collaboration with London-based electronic producer Moiré. An eponymous series of marble sculptures represent data in the physical form. An intrinsic part of our contemporary lives, the data that surrounds us has been translated into graphs before being fed into robotic milling technology; blocks of sequential black and white marble then finished by hand — technology and the human touch riffed on once more.
(It’s Not) Black & White is a series of wall-based works that again employ data — wave height figures, used to understand how climate change can affect extreme weather events, from the threatened ecosystems of Brazil and the Galapagos Islands transposed onto slabs of cast sea-salt recycled from desalination plants. A shift towards decreasing cloud cover is visualised across three cyanotype prints.
Continuing at London’s PM/AMuntil 28 February, Harmonic Distortion is a complicated series of visual metaphors for our complicated age; and is vital viewing.