Christina McPhee will be visiting HUMlab from next Monday 12th December until the following Tuesday 20th December. A multimedial artist and theorist I first came to know of her work and thought through the empyre-soft skinned space email list, where she is both a moderator and contributor. In the physical world McPhee is based in “studios in downtown LA and in the central coast of California”. More from her Rhizome biography:
“her art practice in painting, multimedia, and sound art extends conceptual strategies in data and landscape, and to architectural design education. She studied literature, art history and philosophy at Scripps College, Claremont; painting and printmaking at Kansas City Art Institute (BFA valedic) and painting at Boston University (MFA). A childhood on the Great Plains trained her eye towards the subtleties of landscape in apparently empty space. Her digitally transformed landscapes mesh painterly, architectural and technological detail within an atmosphere of chiaroscuro and baroque complexity.” Rhizome.
The most recent of her works that I know of is the Carrizo-Parkfield Diaries, a multimedia installation piece that centres around “what is location, what is landscape, what is fiction, and who are we to tell the tale”. An earthquake makes us aware of the geophysical space we inhabit, how we record such an event contains much about how we construct that space. In the Carrizo-Parkfield Diaries;
“The San Andreas kicked in: tremors in rapid succession, the first and biggest at 6.0: big enough that if it had happened in one of the real California cities there would have been massive destruction. Out in Parkfield, where the seismologists have their field station: the fault obliged with a full day of events and more again this morning (5.0). Merzian instabilities in the data shadows. Is the landscape “someone” who reads ‘my’ data flux or am I a remote sensor for the flux: a strange loop”
The data of the earthquake is captured in McPhee’s art, image, sound, film, space.
“Sound art is a mode of super awareness as if one is singing in the interstitial spaces between one present moment and the next present moment: a hyper now.” Christina McPhee 2005
McPhee herself acknowledges lineage to Kurt Schwitters and Marcel Duchamp in her work. I am particularly impressed by the spatial aspects of her work, the tectonic plate scale of Carrizo-Parkfield Diaries, the life of objects, the depth of the image as fractal layer builds on fractal layer and the place of us, the breathing organism, in the machine.
There will be workshop on Tuesday:
[13 december kl. 13:15]
Strike/Slip: Datascapes, Topologies and the Sublime
Californians accommodate to seismicity, via amnesia and the shock of recall, within a landscape that serves up intervals, between tremor and nothing. The Fault manifests its most obvious display at Carrizo Plain, sometimes called the “Cadillac of earthquake geomorphology” about 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles where the M 8.5-9.0 Fort Tejon Quake occurred over 150 years ago, and offset the banks of Carrizo’s Wallace Creek by thirty feet in a couple of seconds. The Fault appears quiet here. Documentation must address what’s felt, what’s in the air, what’s feared and what may also not be seen. I work onsite at the San Andreas Fault at Carrizo Plain, and the alkaline Soda Lake at its centre. Nearby at Parkfield, the fault, present in only subtle visual signs, is a continuously active seismic landscape: a recent 2004 6.0 quake yields a rich archive of open source geologic data. The digital video and chromogenic prints open onto things about to be remembered, or things lost. They incorporate traces from geomorphologic seismicity subsurface maps at Parkfield, and take on names from the ground motion data and seismic geomorphic visualizations from the 2004 Parkfield quake. Place becomes both an intimate and inhuman seismic memory.
This is a chance for us here in Umeå to meet and listen to an important artist in a seasonal time when the space of landscape exerts such an influence over us, the wintery embrace and the living memory.