Mother Volcano

“The changing of bodies into light, and light into bodies, is very comfortable to the course of Nature, which seems delighted with transmutations.” — Isaac Newton, Opticks, 1704

Mother was made in 2009. By then we had created a series of small interactive creatures which combined human and sea-life forms, in bizarre and grotesque shapes. We were thinking about how to conceptually link them together, creating a cosmology to frame these ‘future evolution creatures’.

One day, while projecting collages of images morphing over each other onto our bedroom wall, we accidentally slowed everything down. These accidents happen all the time in coding, one out-of-range variable can dramatically change what happens. We looked at the wall and were mesmerized by the slowness of it – the barely perceptible changes. We placed a circular mask over the imagery and conjured up a planet. This world could contain all our previous creatures, but what would the world be made of?

We were living in Peckham at the time and went down to the local shops and bought a load of hard to identify sea-life and offal products to photograph and add into the mix. Lugging all this flesh into a photography studio and making lumps of tripe animate was a memorable experience (we should say, we have long since become vegetarians!). We had several hundred clips which we brought together in code and animation. The piece would be ever-changing, churning away for eternity. We decided to call it Mother, after the Greek mythological being Echidna “Mother of all creatures”.

This new version for Daisyworld Phoenix is called Mother Volcano. We were reading about the importance of Volcanic activity to the GAIA hypothesis and the cycling of elements through the explosive history of the planet. By adding a red tinting effect to Mother, it now sporadically flares up and then dissipates.

Mother can be read as a planet, or a cosmos, or a view down a microscope. Our Russian friend even described it as a bowl of soup. Whichever scale you choose, it draws you into its neverending narrative. We are aware of its presence, is it aware of ours?

We recently found this text in the Tao Te Ching, long after we had made the piece. We think this 3000-year-old poem, attributed to Lao Tzu, is also talking about Mother.

“There is a thing confusedly formed,
Born before heaven and earth.
Silent and void.
It stands alone and does not change,
Goes round and does not weary.
It is capable of being the mother of the world.
I know not its name, so I style it the Way”

Mother The Camberwell Space 2009