‘Consider yourself. I want you to imagine a scene from your childhood. Pick something evocative... Something you can remember clearly, something you can see, feel, maybe even smell, as if you were really there. After all, you really were there at the time, weren’t you? How else would you remember it? But here is the bombshell: you WEREN’T there. Not a single atom that is in your body today was there when that event took place. Every bit of you has been replaced many times over... The point is that you are like a cloud: something that persists over long periods, whilst simultaneously being in flux. Matter flows from place to place and momentarily come together to be you. Whatever you are, therefore, you are not the stuff of which you are made.’
Steve Grand, ‘Creation: Life and How to Make it’
Millennium is pleased to present ‘Syzygy’ by Mat Chivers. Chivers has a fascination for cloud-like structures, in them he sees parallels with our own constant state of internal and external flux. They feature in his work as a metaphor for our own metamorphic process – This is a fascination which began as a child when he bred tropical moths and butterflies and became fascinated with the transformation that takes place - from caterpillar – chrysalis – moth.
Chivers adopts various processes reinforcing a duality in the work. He works closely with digital data capture and machine made technique alongside and in stark contrast to the more traditional technique of carving using hammer and chisel or pencil on paper. The astonishing and ambitious two-part work ‘Syzygy’ perfectly illustrates these differing approaches. A cumulus cloud, carved from memory in Spanish Alabaster, reaches skywards appearing weightless, its surface scarred with a multitude of directional marks resulting in an undulating, transient quality. The accompanying sculpture sits horizontally and is the result of the sister piece being digitally scanned. This process results in a 3D virtual lattice compromised of millions of triangles and the resulting shape is created in mirror polish Indian Black Granite using a milling machine. It, by its nature, is a synthetic, corrupted, transformed, mirror copy of the hand carved element. Analogue and digital processes are brought together, presenting a tension between opposites.
Perceptual Ecology’ is a series of individually framed drawings in pencil on paper which provoke a dialogue between diverse subjects, exploring an interest in objects that indicate something about the way we perceive ‘our’ reality. Two particular pencil studies are of two sides of a brain - mirror opposites of one another. These have been copied from a life-size rapid prototype model of his own brain built from MRI scans – the right side is the intuitive and imaginative whereas the left relates to logic, reasoning and intellect, illustrating clearly notions of opposition and connectivity.
We occupy a space at the centre of things - the meeting point. Chivers regards these contrasts as symbolic of ‘the intuitive’ and ‘the logical’ aspects of human cognition. The whole focus of reality is one of contrast or conflict and of attempting to reconcile a multitude of extreme states – of trying to make sense of and reunite that which may and perhaps should remain irreconcilable. This is a hypothesis, which echoes where we as human beings sit within the culture and the nature that has been created for us, and that we have created for ourselves.
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