Artist Statement – Pure Mix



What was inspiring about my interaction with Diller+Scofidio in the development of, Pure Mix, our project for the Snow Show, was that from the beginning our conversation was less about the positions of artist or architect but a more unified and probing discussion of a philosophical and conceptual nature.  We discussed art and architecture from an open-ended and questioning viewpoint, looking at the Kemi environment, systems of change and production as well as materiality.  The idea of the designer waters we ultimately worked with in Pure Mix came from the earliest conversations I had with Liz, Ric and Matthew on the first of my two visits to NY.  Liz and I were in particular, interested in the idea of what the snow itself was as a material: snow crystals, chemistry and physics of snow and water, the freezing process, the illusion of the purity of nature; could the nature of snow itself be the driving idea of a viable project? 


Each team member brought elements from our own backgrounds to the conversation, D+S relating issues of culture, domestication, production, process over form and phenomenology; I articulated ideas of natural systems, site, materiality, performance and process.  The common interest in process was one arena of numerous discussions involving several schemes of structures or systems perpetually constructing and deconstructing themselves and landscape-scale games or events.  Philosophically we each brought up aspects of the current debates regarding culture and nature, including ideas about nature being unknowable, its inclusion solely within culture as a textual and mediated experience and conversely the idea that nature is unknowable because of its vastness and complexity, that culture is contained within nature whose parameters science and our capacity for perception can only approximate.


Also of prime consideration and an area of my specific interest was the project’s “ecology” - the siting of the work with it’s orientation relating to the paper mill on shore in the background and the cyclical nature of the piece, that all of the “designer waters” temporarily contained in the grid of Pure Mix, will ultimately return back to their origin in nature. The inclusion in some form of waters from natural sites or scientific sources: algae water, specific lake waters, silted waters, heavy water, raven urine, reindeer blood, distilled water, etc., such as described in a few pre-collaboration drawings, may have added other “ecological” dimensions to the project had our team’s interaction been able to consider this aspect fully.  I do think this project as it now stands is “in progress,” and I am sure that after further reflection, a lot will be learned from it by our team and provide a catalyst for further discussion.  What comes to mind in this regard is some of the thinking of Donna Haraway, in part her manifesto about the “rights” of non-human species (and nature).  I look forward to continuing reiterations of Pure Mix both conceptually and formally at the next site if the Snow Show goes on to new venues.  


John Roloff, 2004