This project constructs an Algonquin-esque composition made of various synthetic and artificial products. A modest clump of materials—including decoys, Christmas trees, faux rocks and carpet—stands in for a vast landscape. It is literally “towering,” perched high upon asymmetrical lumber stilts.Wile Wild tests the capacity to suspend disbelief, to meld perceptions to predispositions. We might choose to accept a fake rock as mineral or a plastic Christmas tree as an actual pine or spruce, despite underlying awareness to the contrary. The installation collects various such items readily available in our manufactured culture. Yet when these products are assembled to recreate a landscape, their mimicry is amplified and our ability to ignore their artificiality lessened.
Wile Wild is contained in a courtyard, with its own environment of planted vegetation. Relationships between natural and synthetic are further intensified and complicated by this juxtaposition. Contrast calls into question those measures by which we determine authenticity. Is a genetically modified a bush or tree, grown in a controlled environment, transported to a new location and planted in a box more authentic than the artificial turf that simply stands in for natural grass? Does a weed that emerges next to this modified shrub fall into the margins of the undesirably authentic?
My somewhat contradictory and conflicted assemblage of manufactured elements does not set out to pass judgment, i.e., synthetic good, synthetic bad. Rather as an ensemble it examines our interest in imitating things natural—to the extent of embossing wood grain in plastic lumber. The absurdity of Wile Wild presents a double-entendre recreation in which our relationship to the synthetic reality of the world we live in plays out.
“Living life in the wild”, by Carolyn Farrell, Barrie Examiner, August 12, 2011. Download PDF