Time Machine (Bunbury Biennale)

Above: Time Machine (2023) – Bunbury Biennale.

Time Machine (2023) explores the entanglement of various material and cultural histories that intersect geology, extractivism, culture and time. The sculpture is made from electromechanical components which hold 80 cropped Geological Survey maps of Western Australia. The maps rotate around a mechanical spindle to produce a non-linear animation. To power the rotation, a stainless-steel assembly was built to house a 12v motor, gears and timing belt. The outer assembly gives the work an austere machinery appearance. Many of the geological maps used in Time Machine were produced in the 1970–80s and have the appearance of abstract art. The motion of the maps around the spindle produces an optical illusion creating beautiful colour blends. The maps also denote Earth processes and mineral compositions that have taken hundreds of millions of years to form—now converging with the present. Yet Time Machine does not represent a simplistic narrative of human versus nature, but rather the processes through which raw materials, no matter how isolated, are extracted from their surroundings and then commodified. This is achieved via the allegory of the spinning geological maps (that depict remote mining regions of Western Australia). On one hand the maps are a testament to the rich scientific knowledge in the field of geology. On the other hand, the maps can be read in a way that codifies the upper portion of the Earth’s crust as a potential mineral resource. However, the concept of ‘resource’ is socially constructed—raising the philosophical and ethical question of how knowledge is produced and who benefits from its production. In the case of geoscience, it is big mining that benefits, but because of that, I benefit (through paradigms of complicity and everyday life). By making an artwork from the result of mineral extraction, I aim to illustrate the complex and dynamic exchange between the geological, time and culture.