Dissolutions is an artistic research residency and exhibition project initiated by Berlin-based artist Martin Howse, curated by Peter Flemming in collaboration with OBORO and PERTE DE SIGNAL, with support from the Goethe-Institut Montréal. Dissolutions is a series of playfully experimental situations (open labs, workshops, talks, field trips) that explore the material-basis of contemporary cultures, focusing on the transition from large-scale industrial technologies to the seemingly invisible realm of the digital. This research will lead to the Montreal world premiere of an intriguing new installation by Howse.
A sprawling system of glass cells and tubes, this installation visibly performs the slow biological and chemical extraction of acids from the air and earth using historical electro-chemical processes, in parallel with the gradual dissolution of fully articulated technological objects (waste electronics) and raw materials used to make them (metal and mineral ores). Dissolutions literally describes an earth-technological cycle of mineral extraction and material transformation, mirroring cycles of technological consumption: copper, gold and silver are pulled from the earth, used to create technology, junked tech is dissolved and returned to the earth.
Just as industrial sites are disappearing from the Western metropolitan landscape, subsequently reappearing in many non-Western cities, so digital technology effaces its material origin and eventual earthly destination, as e-waste. These erasures are parts of our culture: they supply our way of life and impact greatly on the terrestrial ecosystem, yet tend to remain submerged from collective awareness. Dissolutions acknowledges these traces, allowing their processes of dissolution and transformation to emerge for conscious examination.