2.14 - Painting 2011
2.03 - Deliverance

Animal Magician's Hut - Art Battery

I came across an old image of the 82,000 KVA generators at the Great Boulder Dam, which I kept with me like a talisman for some years. The image depicts a cavernous hall, which I imagined to be a mythological place, like a magician’s workshop, or an engine room deep within the mind. The big generators had oil and bits of stuff dropped all around on the ground, which I related to spilled thought.

What affected me about the image was the physical presence of the piece of paper as an object—the tangible, tactile quality of the printing on the surface—yet it seemed to reveal an inaccessible place of the imagination within.

It also occurred to me that humans were capable of shifting material about in such amazing ways to make matter 'do' something. A torch is manipulated matter; a light bulb is mud, polished.

People had slightly altered material to create massive functioning generators to create energy, and people had altered material to produce a camera and paper on which to make a picture of generators to inspire me.

The Boulder Dam generator image led to the development of my own series of photographs in which I produced 'reconstructions' of the first cultural battery. I used photography as the medium for this series so as to provide irrefutable ‘evidence’ of something that actually could never exist in material form.

I was struck by the absurd notion: if such a thing as a ‘spirit battery’ existed in a magician’s workshop at the beginning of time, what did it actually look like? What foul emanations did it produce? Did it make noise so as to scare away the wild animals that occupied the space before it? 



Although I set out to make this work in absolute earnestness, I was aware of a category of amateur pseudo-archaeology and the earth-mystery movement, that developed bizarre theories of ancient technologies and our cultural origins. I found these genres of science fiction endearing, especially the way they created layers of mythology by posing as fact.  



The models and props for the photographs were disposed of after the image was recorded, so that the sad, decaying object of the image was what contained the myth. The battery could only function in a type of 'mind-space' behind the flat surface of the image.



Much of the research material for this project, including photographs, was compiled in depot boxes, which were distributed at various places where a wild puma had been sighted.


Explore this theme

1. Introduction

2. Depot Boxes

3. Tracks

4. Art Battery (You Are Here)

5. Puma Search

6. Astronaut Figures