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Two-channel video installation / Two Hantarex 28” monitors, fresnel lenses, metal stands, stained glass, wood.
Loop 2 min 46 sec / dimensions variable
Beemushroomed (2023) is a two-channel video installation that merges ancient shamanistic wisdom with modern developments in vision and perception. It consists of two Hantarex monitors mounted on metal stands, with transparent stained glass panels incorporating Fresnel lenses. The lenses, originally designed by Augustin-Jean Fresnel for lighthouses, are positioned at screen level. This arrangement recalls a scene from Terry Gilliam's 1985 film Brazil, where Fresnel panels comically serve as magnifiers for small monitors in the Ministry of Information offices. The stands and their components, including wooden blocks securing the glass, draw inspiration from Carlo Scarpa's iconic exhibition designs. On view are two monochromatic videos, distorted by the Fresnel lenses, featuring Sine Van Menxel, an artist and friend of Campers. She exudes a calm and composed demeanour, reminiscent of a shaman, as bees gradually gather on her arm. Through this piece, Campers extends his exploration of the theories proposed by Terence McKenna, a dubious American writer, philosopher, and anthropologist known for his provocative views on evolution. McKenna suggested that human consciousness might have its origins in the consumption of psychedelic mushrooms (see Psilocybin Cubensis, 2017). One image that particularly resonated with Campers was found in McKenna's 1992 book Food of the Gods – a depiction of the bee-faced mushroom shaman of Tassili n'Ajjer. This rock painting, discovered on the Tassili Plateau in Algeria, an expanse of rugged stone formations, portrays a figure with a bee's head and mushrooms sprouting from its body, blending human and insect features. Much like the work itself, the painting hints at an ancient correlation between bees, their monochromatic vision, and altered states of consciousness induced by mushroom consumption. These elements converge towards the pursuit of experiences that transcend the confines of rationality or empirical comprehension.
Detail of Butterflies of the Sea, 2023
BUTTERFLIES OF THE SEA
Installation / Trilobite fossils (Eldredgeops rana crassituberculata, Cheirurus gibbus, Reedops cephalotes), Calcite crystals, metal, wood, fresnel lens.
The installation Butterflies of the Sea is an exploration of invertebrate vision. It consists of three ancient trilobite fossils delicately arranged on a wooden sculpture. Trilobites, creatures from millions of years ago, had unique calcite eyes that bear a striking resemblance in structure to modern-day bees' eyes. These trilobite eyes, known as schizochroal, used a doublet lens to correct spherical aberrations found in rigid lenses. Interestingly, these eyes shared similarities with the lenses developed by seventeenth-century physicists Descartes and Huygens, who grappled with similar optical challenges. Despite the convergence of natural evolution and human discovery, it is evident that science cannot replicate or uncover what nature has already accomplished. Nature transcends the role of being a mere resource for human creativity and ingenuity. Campers' latest body of work aligns with Aristotle's idea that art and technology mimic, achieve, or enhance what nature has already accomplished, but also incorporates Karen Barad's nuanced perspective on the complexities of biomimicry. In a reflection on brittlestars, which share qualities with trilobites, Barad emphasizes that brittlestars don't possess eyes; they are eyes. Their visual system is inseparable from their embodiment. She writes: “Brittlestars are trans/materialities. They transgress the sacrosanct divides between organic and inorganic, machine and animal, episteme and techne, matter and intelligibility, macro and micro.” Recognizing that our creative instincts, inspired by nature, have inadvertently led to a diverse range of negative human-induced impacts on an interconnected web of both living and non-living entities, might compel us to re-evaluate and redefine our place in the world.
LOOK TO THE MOUNTAIN
Framed salted paper prints, 2022
print size: 20,32 x 25,4cm
frame: 43 x 38cm
Drawing inspiration from Scarpa's exhibition design at Palazzo Abatellis in Palermo, the incorporation of hanging panels introduces elements of transparency and layering into the open exhibition space. These panels hold a collection of photographs, encompassing both older and new works, including the new series titled Look to the Mountain (2022). Over the years, Campers nurtured a fascination with this clock, which stands as a monumental testament to long-term thinking, conceived by Danny Hillis in 1986. The mechanical clock was meticulously engineered to maintain precise timekeeping for the next ten millennia and serves as a poignant reminder of human humility: no civilization has endured for such a span, and a human life comprises merely one percent of this clock's lifespan. Through his project, Hillis sought to look further into the future than what we usually can do. Interestingly, Stewart Brand, a techno-utopian and the visionary behind the counterculture cornerstone Whole Earth Catalogue (1968-1972) teamed up with Jeff Bezos to fund the construction of this clock within a mountain owned by the Amazon founder. Campers created the handmade photographs using the salt technique, a paper-based photographic process invented by Fox Talbot in 1830. This method involves exposing a sheet of paper coated with silver chloride to light within a camera, transforming a negative image into a positive print. The resulting image becomes embedded in the paper, retaining its sensitivity to light. The portrayal of the clock conveys a longing for a connection to deep time, providing a profound understanding of temporal perspectives. Meanwhile, the subtle and gradual fading of the image emphasises the passage of time and the limited scope of human pursuits—an innate tension in our personal, artistic, and scientific aspirations. The series also highlights the co-optation or assimilation of countercultural ideals into the capitalist system, where these ideals are repackaged and commodified for profit or power.
Fallen Glacier, 2023. framed archival pigment print, 40 x 50cm