Artist Entries – The Universal Sea Awards I

Our EU co-funded project The Universal Sea ran three Open Calls to Artists. A big thank to all artists for their great contributions! Here you can find our Top 100 submissions of our first open call from 2017 as a reference. They were all published in the guidebook from 2019.

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114
Petro
by Giulia Gentili
1826
Contest is finished!
https://universal-sea.org/calendar/open-call-application-form?contest=photo-detail&photo_id=1622
114
1826
Title:
Petro

Author:
Giulia Gentili

Description:
Petro (20cm x 15cm x 5cm) is a cast of a piece of driftwood in pitch resin. The piece had washed up on the shores of the John Muir Country Park beaches on the east coast of Scotland. Its origins are unknown and the time it spent at sea are only traceable by the erosion of the waves that have smoothed out its detail. It is often difficult for us, as humans, to understand geological timescales. We can only truly emotionally relate to what we know and our short lifespan is merely a speck on the face of the earth’s movements. It is within this realm that I place my artistic practice. The choice to cast the piece of wood in pitch resin is multifaceted. Similar to bitumen and seemingly artificial, it is a natural material. It has a plastic-like aesthetic which alludes to the human imprint on our oceans and the slew of artificial materials that are washing up on our beaches every day. For this reason, the negative change to our planet over the course of the Anthropocene is perhaps most noticeable in our waters. Perhaps pitch’s most interesting and unique quality is its viscosity. Similarly to glass, over extended periods of time, the material slumps and changes shape. Like the geological formations of the earth, these movements are not visible to the naked eye but can be observed over time. My practice often hinges on material culture and a scientific approach. I believe that art is a non-scientific use of science. As artists, we try to find a way to understand the world that surrounds us – be it one way or another – in a similar manner to scientific research yet it is unconstrained by the rules of rationality. Using the arts to deepen our emotional understanding of nature and the environment can strengthen our passion for it and consequently could catalyse change. Ultimately, how can we love something if we do not learn to understand it?
Description:
Petro (20cm x 15cm x 5cm) is a cast of a piece of driftwood in pitch resin. The piece had washed up on the shores of the John Muir Country Park beaches on the east coast of Scotland. Its origins are unknown and the time it spent at sea are only traceable by the erosion of the waves that have smoothed out its detail. It is often difficult for us, as humans, to understand geological timescales. We can only truly emotionally relate to what we know and our short lifespan is merely a speck on the face of the earth’s movements. It is within this realm that I place my artistic practice. The choice to cast the piece of wood in pitch resin is multifaceted. Similar to bitumen and seemingly artificial, it is a natural material. It has a plastic-like aesthetic which alludes to the human imprint on our oceans and the slew of artificial materials that are washing up on our beaches every day. For this reason, the negative change to our planet over the course of the Anthropocene is perhaps most noticeable in our waters. Perhaps pitch’s most interesting and unique quality is its viscosity. Similarly to glass, over extended periods of time, the material slumps and changes shape. Like the geological formations of the earth, these movements are not visible to the naked eye but can be observed over time. My practice often hinges on material culture and a scientific approach. I believe that art is a non-scientific use of science. As artists, we try to find a way to understand the world that surrounds us – be it one way or another – in a similar manner to scientific research yet it is unconstrained by the rules of rationality. Using the arts to deepen our emotional understanding of nature and the environment can strengthen our passion for it and consequently could catalyse change. Ultimately, how can we love something if we do not learn to understand it?
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