Interstice

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Interstice is my latest installation piece, a continuation of the work I began last year with Mother. As with Mother, the installation reinterprets the entire human genome as a single melody, one that would take centuries to complete in its entirety. Using four speakers, the melody travels around the participants in a helical pattern, referencing the structure of the DNA double helix. At the centre of the work is a four-foot long resin boat illuminated from below, which pulsates each time a note is played. The boat is a scaled-up replica of the small boat from the original work – I wanted to reference and embody the replicating force alluded to in the earlier piece. The entire process was completed by hand using traditional techniques.

First a glass fibre support was created before being covered with over two hundred plaster tiles, each cast by hand. The entire positive was then coated in silicone rubber to produce a mould for the outer hull. A similar procedure was undertaken to produce a second mould for the inner surface. Finally water clear resin was poured into the void between the two to complete the replication.

As in nature, the replication process chosen inevitably induces small imperfections and differences between the two objects extending beyond merely scale. Thus the sculptural element of the work is more a descendent or child of the original than a verbatim copy. The piece is also subtly interactive and aware of the presence of others in the space; however one is most likely to notice this when standing still. It is my belief that interaction can be more powerful and meaningful when applied in a nuanced and controlled manner.

It should be noted that Interstice is emphatically not intended to function solely on the level of data obfuscation or reinterpretation. In fact it is more the meaning conveyed by the process that is important than the mechanics of the process itself – the melody produced would outlive any human hoping to hear it until its conclusion. Furthermore, the casting process itself is one inextricably linked with loss – I spent hundreds of hours producing a plaster model and moulds, knowing all the while that these would never be the finished works. When the cast was complete, these objects were longer required and yet it was these objects with which I had built a relationship.

In a sense the finished work is an artifact of loss, a loss without which the piece could not exist. Thus Interstice is not intended as a piece solely about nature, science or genetics. Rather it is primarily a work concerned with perspective, transience, loss and how we choose to attribute value.

You can also hear a clip of the melody in the video below. The installation makes use of quadrophonic sound to spatialise the melody so the stereo track does not have quite the same impact but it gives an idea of the sound produced.

Interstice from Alex Peckham on Vimeo.

Many thanks to Sarah Burrell and Jo Knell for their help in capturing this footage.

Many thanks also to Francesca Twinn for this video:

Finally many thanks to Ben Crossman for the animated gifs below – the actual pulse is quite smooth and slow which doesn’t really come across because they’re y’know, animated gifs. No matter, I like them very much nonetheless.

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