Camouflage, Stele

Commissioned exhibition at fluent, Santander, as part of the thematic cycle 'Forests, Ghosts, Clouds, Stones'

The exhibition takes the form of a soundtracked installation where a fictional group of individuals gather with the aim of creating new patterns of interaction between nature and technology in order to counteract unsustainable social systems. This conceit echoes two previous imaginative experiments: the first is Archizoom’s No-Stop City, a playful design proposal that outlined alternative forms of social inhabitation through a satirical dissolution of public-private boundaries. The second is Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home which imagines a people called the Kesh who live in a far future version of what we know as Northern California, in a considerate relationship with their environment.

In the space we stumble upon the group’s remnants, tools and furnishings. A post-human sensibility dominates. Ceremonial artefacts, memory cards, flora and fauna rest on tables with amorphous edges; from this entanglement of inert and living beings a material culture arises. Amongst accumulations of textural sound, the group recount experiences to each other. Starting from trivial observations, they interpret freely to decentralise their own agency in a web of morphological relations, moving to more hallucinatory and nonsensical modes.

The two words of the title have a signification in both a natural and technological sense. Camouflage is the effect of an object seemingly dissolving into its background through means of imitative patterning. Meanwhile, stele are engraved slabs that serve as an inscriptive monument, but can also refer to the central stem in a vascular plant. How do different realms become partitioned through language, and how does this reflect our sense of entitlement?

Despite its ludic address, Camouflage, Stele prods at the instrumentalisation of what-we-call nature, prevalent in the fields of interior design or contemporary art, amongst many others. It encompasses both a doubt in the hubris of heralding new ontologies and a pressing practical question: how could we perceive, inhabit and interrelate differently?