Critical Reflection on the Anthropocene through the Marblesque paintings

“When I paint marbles, I always see the same scenery.”

 

As I stand on a gentle slope of a little hill where grass has grown up to my knees, I feel the wind rising up from below. I imagine the trajectory of flowing dew, as it trickles slowly to the edges of leaves, along stems of plants, down to the ground, seeps into its surface, and dribbling through stratum after stratum until it finally reaches a stream of groundwater. 

 

Feeling the gravity from the trajectory of such a natural phenomenon, I have hitherto striven to capture the beauty of nature found in marble. While endeavouring to diligently delineate the line that condenses such wonder underpinned by the law of nature, I have recently produced a series of paintings, which I call, the Marblesque. Meanwhile, I have treated the Marblesque series rather like landscape paintings, albeit without applying the linear perspective. The following explains the rationale behind my intention.

 

In geology, according to the order in which the strata are formed, the present-day era fits in the era of Holocene, as some geologists argue. However, a theory has been developed recently, according to which the previous era came to an end and the world has now entered a new geological age. The name of the new geological age is called "Anthropocene", which was popularised in 2000 by the Dutch atmospheric chemist Paul Jozef Crutzen, who won the Nobel Prize for his contribution to the climate change research, in particular, on the study of ozone depletion. Since then, various theoretical avenues concerning the beginning of the new epoch have been proposed and intensely debated, although no consensus has so far been reached amongst scientists, and it still remains a contentious issue.

 

Mankind has produced and continue to produce debris that is non-biodegradable and thus does not return to nature, which has had a profound impact upon the planetary ecosystems of the earth. This has been defined as “technosphere". As humanity has inflicted colossal alterations to this planet, while halting the expansion of biodiversity, the new geological era of the "anthropocene has emerged. This is the idea that has recently caused much heated scientific as well as public debates particularly in relation to climate change. 

 

The beginning of the new epoch, the "Anthropocene", is said, by some, to have occurred in the middle of the 20th century, coinciding with the time that we, as members of society living in the present epoch, have walked the earth and precipitated the above-mentioned immense environmental footprints. Taking into account the explosive increase, the total mass of diverse technosphere is now said to be around 30 trillion tons, most of which, according to many scientists, will never return to the soil. Therefore, the technosphere will likely stay under the ground in much the same way as fossils, leaving an indelible mark that indicates a caesura from the previous era. The increasing fossils of our industrial civilization, namely ‘technofossils’, will remain as a permanent trace in the stratum and will do so well into the future.

 

The intensity of colours accentuated in my artwork, the Marblesque, is intended to evoke the quantity of heat that the technosphere emanates with the huge mass, as well as the future geological formation that will supposedly take shape in the future due to further environmental transformation. If gravitational field in my work is metaphorically viewed as the Holocene that had preceded over the 11 thousand 7 hundred years, the Marblesque series, depicting the altering of heat caused by the formation of the technosphere, can perhaps be seen as the “anthropocene" that has begun in recent decades. Moreover, the series of my marble paintings can be interpreted as a painterly expression as well as the visual representation of today’s precarious geological age. 

 

Akira Ishiguro

マーブレスクによる人新世の考察
 

“ 私はマーブルを描く時にいつも同じ風景を見ている。”

 

私はひざ丈ぐらいまで草が伸びた小高い丘のゆるい斜面に、眼下からせり上がってくる風を感じながら立っている。露が葉末を伝って地表に染み込み、地中を抜けて地下水となるまでに描く軌跡を想像する。その軌跡から重力を感じ取り、マーブルを遠近法の無い風景画と捉え、自然の造形美を見つけて、「自然の法則を抽出した線」を写し取ってきた。

 

地質学において地層の出来た順序では現代は完新世の時代に当て嵌まるが、それが終わり新たな地質年代に突入しているという学説が検討されている。新たな地質年代の名を「人新世(Anthropocene)」といい、オゾンホール研究でノーベル賞を受賞した大気化学者パウル・クルッツルン(Paul Jozef Crutzen)によって2000年に提唱され、様々な議論がなされているが、明確な定義付けがされていない概念である。

 

人類が地球上に生み出してきたもの。そしてこれからも蓄積し続け、自然には還らないデブリを「テクノスフィア (technosphere)」と定義し、人類が地球に多大な変化をもたらしたことで、地質学的に新たな時代「人新世」が始まったという考え方である。

 

人新世の始まりは20世紀半ばが有力とされていて、現代を生きる私たちが社会の一員として生きてきた時間と重なる。爆発的増加と多様化したテクノスフィアの総質量は30兆トンとも言われ、その多くは土に還ることはない。その意味でテクノスフィアは、前時代との区切りを明確に示す新たな尺度として、化石と同様に機能すると言えるかもしれない。今後も増加する文明化石(technofossils)は地層に恒久的な痕跡として、遠い未来にも残り続けるだろう。

 

マーブレスクにみる絡み合う色彩の主張は、膨大な質量のテクノスフィアが持つ熱量と、変成作用による未来の地層をイメージさせる。私の作品において重力場(GRAVITATIONAL FIELD)をこれまでの1万1700年に及ぶ完新世と捉えると、テクノスフィアの生成に生じる熱による変成作用を描いたマーブレスク(Marblesque)は人新世であり、大理石絵画(Painting of Marble)は現代の地質年代を可視化した絵画表現と言えるのではないだろうか。

 

 

石黒 昭

Critical Reflection on the Anthropocene through the Marblesque paintings

Marblesque
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Photo: Preecha Pattara

VR “Critical Reflection on the Anthropocene

through the Marblesque paintings: l”

at the Subhashok The Art Centre / Bangkok 

Painting of Marble

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GRAVITATIONAL FIELD

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