Pearl Flask was initially developed for a larger installation called Instrument as Studio at NARS in Sunset Park Brooklyn, but when I was invited to be part of the exhibition Whereabouts curated by Hyperopia Projects, I took the opportunity to develop the work further.
Pearl Flask (2016) utilizes dry ice and stand oil to generate a seemingly alchemical spectacle: it suggests a phantom heat rippling through an amber, honey-like substance. The transformation, which is the result of carbon dioxide struggling to escape from its viscous bonds, is reminiscent not only of the material transmutation of glass from solid to liquid and back to solid, but also the early alchemical attempts to produce precious gems from base material.
A literary subtext often informs my works, and in this case it is the absurd pseudo science of Alfred Jarry’s Pataphysics, a “science of imaginary solutions,” where a boat can be made from a sieve or a time machine from a gyroscope. It also calls to mind a section of Francois Rabelais’ similarly absurd masterpiece Gangantua and Pantegruel, in which the sounds of a battle waged in a harsh winter are frozen in midair, only to be discovered by the book’s protagonist as the objects thaw and release their bombastic noises. It is suggested by one character that these “frozen words” might be packed in straw or stored in oil, so they could be preserved for the future.