PlasticScene is an extension of my third year works, from 2015, in the textiles department of the ANU School of Art. It has since expanded to a multidisciplinary exploration of organic pattern and texture using synthetic materials.
PlasticScene is a speculative experiment in creating pieces that have a living or natural feel while still clearly being inorganic. Using primarily art and craft supplies marketed to children, I like to test the limits of a product and the result is a body of work that feels accessible to the viewer through the nostalgia of using such materials, but also has an element of disbelief. Most of my pieces also explore an area similar to the uncanny valley. I have described them in the past has having a haptic magnetism. Much like a coral reef, or moss, or any other heavily textured naturally occurring environment, the temptation to reach out and touch them is quite strong in most people, however there is a threat hidden within that temptation. Either the threat of the unknown (will it move when i touch it?) or the threat of destruction (will my finger go through this if I touch it). This in turn reflects our own individual impacts on nature.
All of my works are what I call lightly tactile. Which means they can be interacted with by the viewer, but retain an element of fragility. Damage, through life.
I narrowed my practice to ten words recently:
I hope to talk about these ten words, their meaning to me and my practise and also other relevant discussions in my blog as time goes on.
My friend Alistair is just the kind of person who'll buy something they haven't tried when he sees it. Most of the time it's just a nice new product you know about now, sometimes it's a terrible, horrible mistake and very, very occasionally you find something so different, so enjoyable, that it honestly changes your perspective on food.
Thus enter the Lactic Acid Bar.
One summer day Ali showed up like a proud cat, dragging in his mouth a bag of frozen treats labeled Lactic Acid Bars. There were very few other clues on the packet in English. We ate the whole bag extremely quickly, not only out of the desperation for iceblocks that comes from an Australian summer, but also because they were just... so weird? They were delicious, they were textured almost like a mango frappe. Gelatinous, maybe slightly... carbonated? They had the same sort of flavour as the lemonade left after you've eaten all the icecream off a spider. They were incredible.
The best part, for me, was the shape of the tube they came in. Unlike our National Summer Hero the humble zooperdooper, they came in a round plastic tube and didn't have a seam to rip your precious mouth corners in half with! What a Treat! What A Joy! The Perfect Snack!
We bought a few more packs the next week and realised that they're pretty common, and usually labeled less cryptically. I was given a piece of homework, to embroider onto three unconventional surfaces, and i grabbed the empty container of what we now called Acid Pops. The plastic was strangely flexible, like a thin piece of dried hot glue. It was surprisingly satisfying to embroider onto and almost in a flash I had made 50 different variations of these modified acid pop tubes. My friends will probably never forgive me for making them eat so many of them. I still have dozens and dozens in the studio that I can't wait to get back to one day.
While the formal origins of PlasticScene began with a plasticine project I began in January 2015, the Acid Pop series really was the first sculptural body of work I'd ever been excited about! It somehow was the perfect combination of my love for pop cultural junk, reusing plastics, hoarding precious objects and making things with my hands.
PlasticScene began with plasticine in petri dishes. I had this passing vision of creating my own surfaces out of plasticine, perhaps as a portfolio to send to an animation company. The petri dishes were a life saving decision allowing me to keep the finished plasticine textures safe from squishing, or collecting dust.
In my final semester of art school I had completed 20 dishes.