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MOTHER OF THOUSANDS: Uber Genetalis
SOUND INSTALLATION: September 1-3, 2005, Oxford Botanic Gardens presented as part of Power Plant; October 12-16, 2005, Beaconsfield Gallery, London, presented as part of Chronic Epoch.
Mother of Thousands is a term from plant biology, signifying the production of new offspring directly from buds. A figurative sculpture was made by casting the artist’s body and applying a concrete-like texture in the manner of a Garden Centre reproduction. This offspring was mounted on a plinth and placed within the living encyclopaedic confines of Oxford Botanic Gardens, the human form reduced to a supporting armature in a Madonna & Child-like pose. The arms of the figure cradled a cornucopia of supermarket produce: fruit from around the world, its former exoticism neutralised by food technology and global market practice. The skull cap was removed to reveal a cauliflower substituting a cerebrum - the seat of higher mental functions. Electrodes attached to the fruit and vegetable measured bio-electrical potentials which were translated into sound signals, processed and amplified. The resultant chaotic electronic sound emanated from the surrounding shrubbery, a confusion between notions of nature and environment, a counterpoint to the formal rationality of the botanic garden.
This sound installation was developed from an earlier work, Sonic Bloom, which was commissioned to represent the UK at Expo ’98 in Lisbon within the Garcia De Orta Botanic Gardens.
All images by Bruce Gilchrist