The Signal and the Rock (performance lecture) – 2014-2016

The Signal and the Rock is an artist’s performative lecture which has been developed during my PhD at Kingston University. An earlier iteration was previously performed at the Arnolfini, Bristol in late 2014.

The work employs image, text, video and performance to explore the links between forms of striation and forms of machinic operation and how new technologies and their automated processes have a direct effect on the Earth and the concept of the Anthropocene. The lecture takes the form of a ‘transmission’ from a not too distant future, delivered by the voice of an obsolete technology.

The lecture traces the parallels between the developments of machines and digital technologies that have been used to map and organise the Earth with the concept of the Earth as a form of living machine. It exposes the physical realities of the ‘digital’ via the extraction of raw materials from the Earth’s strata and their eventual disposal at large-scale e-waste sites.

It attempts to bring into focus ‘the hyperobject’ of human activities in relation to technological production and expose the complex process of human and non-human moving parts which goes into the production and disposal processes of components and devices. It particularly focuses on the capacitor, used in electronic devices to store power, and it traces how a simple change in current on the NASDAQ index affects its rate of extraction at key sites in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The work discusses the various processes of re-materialisation and changes in timeframe that the material goes through and then looks towards its demise as a form of dirty matter, abandoned in the soil in Guiyu, China.

The final part of the work makes proposals for new relations between new technologies and their raw materials and the Earth’s strata. These are based on scientific research and one proposal considers fusion and the manipulation of fusion plasmas at atomic level to create materials from soil and recycle them from waste.

‘The Signal and the rock’  has been performed at: CAFA, Beijing (2015); Arnolfini, Bristol (2014); Trans-art, Berlin (2013); Digital Ecologies and the Anthropocene Symposium, Bath Spa University (2017) and STRATA Symposium, Aberystwyth University (2016)


The Signal and the rock: Performance at Central Academy of Fine Art, Beijing