Sunday, May 16, 2010


Artist Roger Hiorns is installing two aircraft engines (infused with brand name depression medications) on a terrace at the Art Institute of Chicago - I found this interesting...but not nearly as interesting as a previous work in London. In 2008 Hiorns filled a bed-sit (studio apartment to some of you) with boiling copper sulphate solution, let it cool and crystallize, then drained off the remaining liquid. Those modernist apartment blocks due for demolition may have been awful to live in but they are a boon to artists, right enough. The results are awesomely beautiful and unsettling.

The result looks like pictures of the Titanic with its decades of decay and colonization visible in the softening and blurring - but you can walk into it in the middle of a city. It looks like the work of ages but it happened in a few days. It seems dirty and ruinous but it is breathtakingly spectacular at the same time. I wonder if its poisonous, and how on earth they'll clean it up... or will it go to the landfill with the demolished building. Surely not... what could all that copper sulphate have cost???

Hiorns puts it well, saying something like it involved a lot of science but it wasn't a scientific project. I venture to say it is a microcosmic view of industry and technology laid bare for our consideration. Are there not parallels? The speed of it, the beauty and magic, the dirt and concern, the cost... the wondering what it is all FOR. Yet if we hear about a new advance in silicon chip manufacturing or evolution of factory processes it seems hardly noteworthy. Here, Hiorns the philosophical questions are encapsulated within the visible and factual.