Thermodynamics of Silence/New Work

Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco, CA, February 1-25, 2006

Site installation: Permanente Terrane

The installation, Thermodynamics of Silence, is the dominate element in the exhibition, New Work at Gallery Paule Anglim, which also includes documentation of recent environmental projects and proposals.

Thermodynamics of Silence presents two linked “natural formations,” one of sculpture, the other of wall-mounted images. The sculptures, Organic Logic (Alpine Orogeny), Organic Logic (Tethyian Realm) and Organic Logic (Hercynian Orogeny) are made of three animate materials: accreted gypsum, allotropic sulfur and rusting iron/gypsum, respectively, in the form of oversize 17th century wigs. The title/material/image relationship of the sculptures refers to the deep geologic history of Europe and the 17th and 18th century “Baroque Project,” a time of systemic synthesis and natural philosophy, in particular the thinking of the philosopher W. G. Leibniz, “…who accorded prominence to categories such as fluidity and elasticity,”(1) and can be argued, anticipated the inherent vitalism of self-organizing systems and quantum mechanics in his development of a metaphysical system based on monads(2).

The seven wall mounted images in Thermodynamics of Silence, are of American Civil War and WWII ships, from public sources, from the series Orders of Entropy. This title indicates that the ships are thermo/chemical or natural/anthropocene(3) structures, in different ‘states’ of extraction, transformation and dissolution within nature.

The juxtaposition of these sculptures and images in Thermodynamics of Silence, is meant to suggest systemic relationships and responsibilities for materiality, ethics and awareness of natural systems. The dialectic of the exhibition is a critique of the history of the mechanistic world view, its natural laws, systems and presumptuousness, (which today is still unable to articulate its own critique [silence]), and of an assertion of a reimagined organic/romantic, sublime which perceives and empathizes(4) with entropy, chemical/material change and systemic relationships from the sub-atomic to macro scales.


1 Folding in Architecture, Architectural Design special issue no. 103, edited by Greg Lynn, 1993. Further examples of the architect, Greg Lynn’s interest in Leibniz’s work can be found in his book, Animate Form, Princeton Architectural Press, 1999.

2 Aspects of the work of J. W. Goethe, A. N. Whitehead and G. Deleuze engage with similar themes. Also see: Manuel DeLanda’s essay, “Nonorganic Life,” pg. 128-167, in Incorporations, J. Crary and S. Kwinter, ed., Zone Books, 1992.

3 The term “anthropocene” (anthrop + holocene) is related to “anthroturbation,” a term developed in conversation with the geophysicist, Paul Spudich, that has been an ongoing theme in my work:
Cities, architecture, roads and other civic constructions made by mankind of earth materials during our Epoch (the Holocene) may be considered in a geologic context as forms of ‘anthroturbation.’1 This term describes the disturbance, dislocation and restructuring of geologic formations and materials by human agencies into new forms. These processes have analogies in the natural world, such as: mining as erosion, transport as flow and construction as sedimentation. Likewise, the built topography of a city can be understood in geomorphic terms: streets as canyons, buildings as plateaus, sewers as caves and plazas as playas. From the artist’s statement for Holocene Terrace, in the solo exhibition, “Morphology of Change,” Lance Fung Gallery, NY, NY, 1999

4 ”Feeling is the agent that reduces the universe to its perspective for fact.” Whitehead, A. N., “Importance,” Modes of Thought, Freepress, 1938/1968, p. 10.

Organic Logic.. Sculptures; Orders of Entropy Images

The artist would like to thank: Mark Bartlett, Bryan Davis, Mark Thompson and Gale Wagner, for their generous assistance with this project.