knowledges | Artist-in-residence spotlight: Andrew S. Yang

knowledges | Artist-in-residence spotlight: Andrew S. Yang

September 9, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


A Scottish physician and scientist, James
Hutton, in 1795 published Theory of the Earth Volumes 1 and 2, of 4. And this book is important because it’s basically the first book sort of in the western tradition to really, seriously pose the idea of the Earth as a dynamic and changing body. Volume 3 is published posthumously but Volume 4 is never written. I wanted to think about what that fourth volume might look like. So, the nature of the work that I’m making
for “knowledges” is “The Theory of the Earth Volume 4.” It’s a book that we’re writing and actively
inscribing as a species among many other species. So, I myself am a bibliophile but if you go to any sort of library these days books, in a weird way, are almost becoming passé relative to digital archiving and storage. I wanted to sort of capture those books and have them do another kind of duty, right? To, in this case, be used as a sculptural material that could help us visualize these notions of the deep time of the earth. Now, of course, that’s an amount of time that’s basically inconceivable to us and so how do you make something like that real through the metaphor of the book? And so, part of this project is actually trying to create a scale model of the Earth’s deep time and that deep time library, again, is one
sort of form that this Theory of the Earth Volume 4 is taking for us to physically and spatially engage something that otherwise is elusive. One thing, you know, about a book that if
you look at it you know, is that, it itself is sort of built up of these, sort of layers and reads almost as sort of like the layers
of a rock. And so, that’s another idea behind the sort of Deep Time Library is that the manifestation of these books physically might look like a geological outcropping where you’re seeing these layers of sediment laid down you’re seeing these sort of pages these leaves of time, that again can be sort of interpretively read and that tell you something about the story and the narrative of the Earth itself. So, in preparation for the work that I’m making for “knowledges” I’ve been able to visit the Herbarium, the Vertebrate Paleontology, Invertebrate
Paleontology, Paleobotany and the Spencer Rare Books and Special Collections at KU and that’s really been invaluable for trying to take on something as ambitious and presumptuous as, like, Theory of the Earth Volume 4. And so, as much as possible, I’m trying to
draw materials from these collections that can be put in relationship with the things that I’m also sort of finding and making in the studio. Again, to create the concentrated and synthetic moment by which elements that otherwise seem really disparate can try to generate new forms of meaning for people who look at them or visit with them to you know, hopefully reveal something else altogether. And those are often things that I don’t even anticipate.