University Of Tasmania
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Biomorphic loop : visualising patterns of growth

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posted on 2023-05-27, 10:32 authored by Linda ErcegLinda Erceg
This project investigates how plastic fibres can be manipulated to create artworks that visualise the growth, adaptability and collapse of living systems. Drawing on a number of mathematical and scientific concepts used to interpret patterns in nature, I have created sculptural forms that explore modularity, repetition, scale-ability, connectivity and the dynamic tension between order and chaos that underpins all growth. My studio investigation focusses on manipulating a variety of plastic fibres, transforming these materials through the basic stitching processes of looping, knotting, binding and threading as an analogue for growth processes. In particular, the ability of the crochet stitch to continuously expand into complex foldings and interconnections is used to investigate organic patterns of growth including: spherical; branching; crenelated and fractal forms. The resulting artworks have a real world ecological context in the discarded plastic debris and fishing 'ghost nets' that are accumulating in the ocean. Representing a system that is growing and self-generating, the problem of plastic waste becomes a timely analogy for the way in which benign patterns of growth can become malevolent and dangerous. The visual context for this project is informed by the work of contemporary artists who rigorously engage with their chosen materials in order to explore the images and ideas of growth. Ruth Asawa, Margaret and Christine Wertheim and Tara Donovan all produce sculptural works through the application of rules and iterative repetition. While referencing scientific and mathematical theories, they interpret rather than imitate the generative possibilities of biological modelling of pattern. Eva Hesse, Ernesto Neto and Lucy Irvine also investigate iterative processes, however their primary focus is on discovering the expressive potential of their materials through structures that elicit metaphorical triggers and associations. As this project has evolved, I have given more emphasis to disordered, transient and ephemeral qualities. Having no beginning, middle or end, my various sculptural elements connect in formations that are infinitely reconfigurable and adaptable. These open-ended and flexible qualities align my project with the concept of the 'rhizome' as proposed by Deleuze and Guattari and to the associated concepts of contemporary complexity theory and the formation of emergent, self-organising structures. In tandem with these theoretical underpinnings, my project also references the culturally loaded symbolism of fibre, evoking both a linear pathway and a stitched boundary that enables connection, separation or containment. During the course of this project, a series of test installations have given valuable insights into the potential for meanings to shift as materiality, structural shape, connectivity, scale, space and lighting are investigated as experiential elements. The culmination of these findings is presented in the thesis exhibition, comprised of gallery-based artworks focussing on a series of interrelated sculptural installations. This project concludes that the processes of stitching can be used to manipulate and transform plastics so that they reveal their true material nature as an infinitely malleable shape-shifter and invasive, ecological coloniser.


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Copyright 2017 the author

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