While the history of art is dominated by aesthetic attitudes relating to materiality, the theme of transnationalism provides the opportunity to reflect upon the increasingly “global” nature of materials and their broader role in the political, spatial and environmental economies of the industrialised world. Materials, viewed as resources, are increasingly “embodied” with values relating to the environmental cost of their extraction, the energy required in the manufacturing process and their relative availability to a commercial market.
Newcastle, a mid sized industrial city on the east coast of Australia, has, amongst its achievements, the distinction of being one of the largest coal exporting ports in the Southern Hemisphere. It also exports over 50 000 tonnes of aluminium per annum. The residual effects of this industry are everywhere, from the gigantic tankers that enter and exit the harbour on an hourly basis, to the intricate traces of infrastructure and industry that extend like ribbons into the rich natural resources of the Hunter Valley immediately to the north.
This paper will look at a series of art installations which directly engage themes relating to materials, place and export. The projects deal with aluminium, as a locally produced resource which, as well as requiring vast amounts of energy to manufacture, is in a constant state of transit as it moves between global economies all across the planet. Central to the local economy of Newcastle but consumed across the planet, the paper will look at the way that aluminium opens up new territories for thinking about materiality in art, its “embodied” environmental energies and the economic and transnational contexts which implicate and distribute it.
|Keywords:||Aluminium, Materials, Newcastle, Export, Ready Made|
Lecturer in Architecture, School of Architecture and the Built Environment, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Lecturer in Media Arts, School of Design Communication and Information Technology, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia
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