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Tesserae of Venus imagines a strange future through experimental film, photomontage and related drawings. Through them we gaze upon remote energy-producing landscapes, as if they were saturated by a carbon atmosphere like that of the planet Venus. I borrow the tectonics of Venus-tesserae, or ‘complex ridged folds’ in order to envision a future landscape at risk of growing carbon saturation and to present a spatial/political critique of a toxic environment. The photomontages and films take place in locations where biological systems clash with technological landscapes in remote parts of California. I am working with images from the natural gas installations in the Sacramento River Delta, geothermal plants in the Salton Sea Geothermal System, and the San Ardo oil fields in the Salinas River Valley.

In Tesserae of Venus, I am exploring alternative energy sites at the rough, natural urban edge in California--windfarms, natural gas installations, geothermal systems-- as if Venus has arrived on Earth--meaning, carbon saturation at the tipping point in Earth’s atmosphere. To do this I create large scale drawings based on the Jet Propulsion Lab Magellan photographs of the surface topology of Venus. I follow the ‘tesserae’ or tiling forms, which are characteristic of the intense heat-generated forms of Venerean surface tectonics, building models of paper that I leave out to weather in the sun and rain, then photograph and film. Then I layer the images of the tesserae into assemblage with the energy site landscapes. I am interested in a cybernetic linking between the tesserae models and the intensive invasion of energy technologies into delicate liminal ecosystems, often along rivers, deltas, swamps and inland seas. Are the tesserae surfaces a conceptual image of the future tipping point, when the feedback loop of carbon saturation in Earth’s atmosphere kicks in? Could the models attempt to describe sheltering structures that we will build in the spaces that emerge within places where the biosphere and large scale technology blur and mesh? As if to anticipate a future architectural environment built of 'tesseracts' ? The film animation frames accumulate skin-like incidents of nip and tuck, folding and unfolding, as if to gather a future archive of photographs from a carbon-saturated Earth. Shelters from the carbon storms--to imagine how we will love our landscapes in the strange weather of our new earth-crisis.

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TESSERAE OUTTAKES
Artist Book from Christina McPhee (2009)
View Here as PDF (7.6Mb)

TESSERAE of VENUS
(TESSERA-REMIX with VENUS JPL)
a speculatively-carbonated froth
2007
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