Readings From The Barometer Of Life - OVERVIEW


This octet of works comprise a series of constructivist portraits, each defined by decaying, camouflaged data.

The fundamental theme woven throughout is the 'war against nature'; the climate crisis and our endangered ecosystems.

Although each, singly features a unique, threatened species, the collective yarns hang as 'gathered' drapery; an encrypted tapestry; a suspended entropy. They illustrate a shared, and tragic narrative - where a quarter of all species on Earth are threatened with extinction. 

A simple, classification code labels each piece. 

e.T17975A123809220
[Orangutan]

e.T7140A12828813
[Asian Elephant]

e.T8005A12881238
[Hawksbill Turtle]

e.T15955A50659951
[Tiger]

e.T39994A115576640
[Eastern Gorilla]

e.T2477A156923585
[Blue Whale]

e.T22823A9390963
[Polar Bear]

e.T19495A8925965
[Javan Rhinoceros]
These are directly extracted from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, then converted into an equilateral data matrix code; the resulting grid-like graphic merged and interwoven within a vertical, textile patchwork; across which a variety of applications build the definitive picture.
Referencing the solvent transfer technique pioneered by American artist Robert Rauschenberg's (specifically his Hoarfrost series (1974-75)), Readings from the Barometer of Life juxtaposes found printed matter with cotton fabrics, paint, plastic, ink, and paper. In addition, the legacy of human waste materials (mankind has manufactured sufficient plastic to wrap the entire Earth) in the form of abandoned ghost netting, fishing lines and a variety of preformed packaging materials, is directly stitched-into each piece. Consequently, by adapting the ancient Japanese discipline of Boro (the practice of reworking and repairing textiles), and its associated belief in Mottainai (a sense of regret over waste), the works that constitute Readings from the Barometer of Life unfold both as a lament, and portentous epigraph, where commodity, disposable asset and debris juxtapose to forge a moving monograph for the Sixth Mass Extinction.
“We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last one that can do anything about it.”
Tanya Steele, Chief Executive WWF

All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2020.