The machine, built by the artist in collaboration with a group of her recent graduates from UC San Diego, usurps recent advances in mechanical technology, subverting the very precise process of 3D printing by forcing the approximate and unreliable material of a slip clay thorough it.
Gallaccio’s subversion of this found mechanism reveals something of the obsolescence and fallibility of technology, often the failure of the clay to adhere to the rules of the machine bring unexpected and chaotic results. For Gallaccio, the printer’s extruded coils of wet clay (mimicking the fluid layering of geology) highlight the potential slippage in artistic intent, the limits of materials, and the struggle of communication.
Beautiful Minds is not only an auto-fabricating sculpture but a work that confuses the distinction between the object itself and the process of its manifestation. The process of printing is inherently repeatable, though the flaws in the system Gallaccio has created would unlikely produce the same object twice. This cyclical potential and the fact that the clay itself, unfired, holds the possibility of being rehydrated and put back through the machine questions the authority of the object over the process of its creation, while the automation brings into question the authorship of the artist.
In recent projects Gallaccio has begun to borrow from technology in a surprising way. Perhaps a result of the move to her adopted home of California and specifically San Diego, a hub for technological and mechanical advances. The American landscape can also be seen in the choice of subject matter: Devils Tower, holding not only otherworldly connotations, as a sacred site in Native American tradition but also the location of an alien landing in the 1977 film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Gallaccio nods to another great Californian institution: Hollywood.
Gallaccio’s recent major works have included a full scale stainless steel tree commissioned by The Whitworth Gallery, Manchester, laser cut in steel from the digital scan of a felled diseased tree on the same site and The light pours out of me (2012) installed at Jupiter Artland, a sub-terranean grotto of amethyst crystals. In 2017 Gallaccio will install a major new sculpture at Contemporary Austin, Texas consisting of a life-sized machine-carved Sequoia tree stump, 3D scanned from an original tree in Northern California, the top cut surface of the stump inlaid with precious stone.
Gallaccio was born in Paisley, Scotland in 1963 and attended Goldsmiths College from 1985-88. She is currently part of the faculty of the Visual Arts Department at UC San Diego and lives and works between San Diego and London.
Concurrently with Gallaccio’s show Thomas Dane Gallery will also present Barbara Kasten Intervals at 11 Duke Street St James’s.
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