What is in a grain of sand?
Where has it been and what histories does it hold?
The earth is made from solar dust and gas
that bundled itself together
through a magnetism of ions.
Water was brought to the earth in tiny particles from meteors
that over millions of centuries melted then amassed to form puddles,
then ponds, then lakes and rivers and oceans.
These meteors carried amino acids.
Every living thing on earth – all plants and animals – are made of amino acids.
At first they existed as just small bacteria that created oxygen
but eventually there was enough oxygen to form a liveable atmosphere.
And thus life was born,
by a mere chance of the right combination.
The term most commonly used by scientists to define our current geological epoch is ‘Anthropocene’ which literally means “human” (Anthropos) and “geologic period” (-cene). This period is one in which the effects of human activities have caused indelible changes to the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, forests, and ecosystems on a global level. The human activities referred to are those such as oil, coal, and gas extraction; agriculture and chemistry; deforestation; carbon and fuel emissions; waste and sewage management; ocean acidification; species extinction; population growth, and humanity’s increasing consumption of the earth’s natural resources. Donna J. Haraway, distinguished professor, feminist, and environmental theorist, has described this epoch as one in which, “the effects of our species are literally written into the rocks.”
Writing on the Rocks is a mixed-media installation that consists of small sculptures assembled into a mound, to represent a pile of rocks or cairn. The projected video depicts patterns of the land – urban, rural, agricultural, and natural – captured from above. Once projected onto the cairn, the sculpture is activated by the moving images that depict many of the anthropogenic patterns existing on the Earth’s crust.
Made by humans, traditionally a cairn’s intention was to help those journeying across the land to find their way or to mark the grave of someone passed. For the purpose of this piece, the intention of the piled stones is one that is cautionary – perhaps they are acting as a guide to remind us of our path, or as a grave to signify the end of the world as we know it today.