I have been working with an ongoing and evolving sculptural installation made up of individually painted, carved, and stacked wine crates interspersed with various found objects and accompanied by prints pulled directly from the carved surfaces of the boxes themselves. Never fixed or finished, the overall project is inspired by the process-based metaphysics of thinkers such as Deleuze, Alfred North Whitehead, and Heraclitus, and serves as a commentary on the negative effects of Western substance-based ontologies. Using the historic phenomenon of kunstkammers (also known as wunderkammers, the so-called cabinets of curiosities), in which European collectors would display acquired objects, many of non-European origins collected during colonial campaigns, and present them as decontextualized curiosities, this installation serves as a vehicle for examining how various cultural frameworks for understanding reality determine our personal immersion and interaction with our environment and with each other. My contention is that a metaphysics that defines the physicality of objects as made up of dead or inert matter alone leads to the type of collection, hierarchical categorization, and exploitation of ‘resources’ that occurs within an imperialistic framework. On the other hand, a process-oriented ontology tends to lead to a more relational understanding, in which the things and beings of this world can be seen as co-constituent and interdependent.
My Kunstkammer assemblage is a commentary on where we are today in the study of science and physics versus where we were a century ago. It uses the crates to literalize the idea of static building blocks of matter. However, I change the arrangement with every showing to make it a shape-shifting sculpture that is never stuck in one form. Its identity is not dependent upon stasis. I think of the arrangement of boxes as a rudimentary computer such as the abacus. My immersion in assembling the sculpture in each iteration is a meditation on metaphysics and materiality. I underline an internal animation that comes with the act of stacking. Parts are hidden from sight while others are revealed. Electronic candles and figurines are interspersed throughout. Hints of carvings show partially on a box trapped underneath another box. Light emanates from cracks and gaps within the boxes.
I emphasize the inherent relationality of a process-based metaphysics by letting the site of the sculpture influence the form. I also carve into the boxes and pull prints from them. Afterwards I take the prints and alter them with pen and ink. I emphasize shape-shifting and transformation through this process. All the objects are covered in black enamel with all lines and creases done in white to speak to drawing, drafting, research, science.