Cataclysms

The North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford, 2018

Framed within the context of the proposed current epoch of geological time, the Anthropocene, ‘Cataclysms’ studied humanity's long-term impact on the strata record through our powerful influence on the environments, climate and ecology of the planet. By depicting the effects of a series of epoch-spanning cataclysmic events, both real and imagined, the exhibition explored  humanity’s destructive alterations to the biosphere as well as the possibilities for positive change, in order to question how long our species will live with respect to deep time. 

Included in the exhibition are four bodies of work created throughout 2016 and 2017. ‘Retain for Refund’ is a series of drawings which explore locations, technologies and human-caused cataclysmic events that highlight the socio-ecological nexus of the Anthropocene to reflect upon the risks and possibilities of its expansion. The drawings are shaped to mirror receipts from purchases made whilst developing the project to connect a deep-time concept and the long term, large-scale effects of humankind’s alterations to the planet to everyday small-scale consumption and waste.

‘The Eternal Return’ is the result of a thought experiment which considers the eternal return theory in the context of modern cosmology. These two theories are subsequently linked to catastrophism in geological history to position the relatively new phenomenon of human-caused cataclysmic events which define the Anthropocene in the context of recurring planetary and cosmic cataclysmic events.    

‘The Shape of Things to Come’ depicts the effect on our planets biosphere many years after an unidentified mass extinction event. The imagery alludes to the possible causes for annihilation and combines humanity’s fading presence with enduring and altered elements from nature to reflect on the possible long-term effects of humankind’s current way of living on the biosphere and what this means for humans to come.  

‘Saskatchewan: Three Temporalities at Night’ responds to scientific research into the stored climate information in Haptophytes (a kind of algae) from past epochs to better understand what can be expected in the future from the unpredictable and destructive effects of climate change in the Saskatchewan region in Canada. It is an epoch-spanning work which depicts the climate in the area thousands of years in the past, in the present and far into the future.

© 2018 by Jessica Copping. All rights reserved