Shimmer Test // Cyberpunk 2077

SEA /RIVER SHIMMER
BLOG // RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

Burton Art Gallery and Museum is delighted to announce the appointment of Andy Hughes as our 2024 environmental artist commission. The commission will include the creation of a video artwork (Machinima) and research that aims to extend and create alternate perspectives around climate change and pollution.

Combining photographic assemblage, archival film, video gaming, and AI, this new video artwork celebrates the idea that even seemingly inanimate materials, such as plastic, were once 'alive' and may still possess a life of their own. As they flow through our rivers and journey across the planet, eventually they make their way into our bodies and minds. The first ocean life forms were microscopic, so small they would be invisible to the naked eye. It is what we cannot see that perhaps requires our focused attention now. His project called Sea/River Shimmer will connect the river Torridge and the estuary into real and virtual fluid watery worlds.




Andy has exhibited in both solo and group national and international exhibitions, most recently at Gapado AiR and the International Jeju Biennale (South Korea). He has dedicated over three decades to visualising the intricacies of plastic waste, pollution, and discarded matter, earning global acclaim. His work seeks to move beyond the conventional narratives about plastic pollution on land and in aquatic environments. His ground-breaking book, titled Dominant Wave Theory, marked a significant milestone as one of the pioneering photographic monographs specifically focused on the subject of plastic pollution. It stands out as an early contribution to 'raising awareness' about the detrimental effects of plastic waste on the environment. Andy first noticed the impact of marine plastic and other waste debris while sitting on a surfboard more than 30 years ago; it reminded him of the waste he grew up with in the Coalfield of Yorkshire. But rather than being fixed and terrestrial, it was floating and suspended in the sea.

Andy says: ‘My work aims to move beyond established visual tropes where messages of eco or plastic awareness lurk within. I aim to provoke heightened attentiveness and synesthetic modes of perception, challenging conventional ideas surrounding climate change and the broader environmental crisis. What we need is more than technocratic solutions to the ecological crises we face as a species.

Shimmer Test //  Plastic Object with AI prompts

Body Veins

Image: The venous and arterial system of the human body with internal organs and detail figures of the generative system. Engraving, 1568. Becerra, Gaspar, 1520?-1568?

The ebb and flow of the river is a natural water vein. Unlike human blood vessels, which carry oxygen-poor blood to our heart, this river, like many others, carries more than just water.

Rivers grow in size as they transport water from their source – from the headwaters to their mouth - carrying weathered materials, including human trash and waste, to the ocean. As natural and human-made materials enter the watercourse they become transformed. They morph and shimmer, float and sink. They are profound reminders of the intricate relationships between the movement of people and goods; they are important players in the water cycle helping to distribute water and dissolved substances around the Earth through their flow

Crystal Viens

Study for Crystaline Polymer Wave, 2024
Image: Studio photograph combined with AI prompts

Current and future histories will be written with water. As oceans rise, islands disappear and coastlines recede, the surrounding seas will be soup-like. Glittering and floating within will be dispersed plastic particles, jewel-like and tiny. They may look like Diatoms (they produce up to 50% of the world's oxygen). In the novel, The Crystal World, J. G. Ballard presents an astonishing portrayal of environmental catastrophes. Ballard raises the idea of living flora and fauna undergoing a transformation into a mineral-like state, as well as the concept of time distortion... the novel stands out as one of Ballard's most perceptive works. This notion of non-linear time combined with imaginary visions of new kinds of materiality, forms the basis of this commissioned work. 

River Torrridge Map

Map of the River Torridge and its catchment in Devon, UK
Ordnance Survey OpenData

Source of the Tamar and Torridge, engraved by W.B. Cooke

Source of the Tamar and Torridge, engraved by W.B. Cooke
After Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851, Line engraving on paper
Image: 79 × 134 mm, Tate, Purchased 1996, REFERENCE T07093

Sea Shimmer Sketchbook

Sketchbook Notes
27.01.24

Andy Hughes Sea Shimmer Sketch

Stuck Together  Zink Prints
27.01.24

Ai - Vein

Sketchbook Notes
27.01.24

A first experiment using an Ai tool to create a vein like structure. One strand of my commission aims to integrate visual cues from The Crystal World" by J.G. Ballard. This novel unfolds against the backdrop of  mysterious and otherworldly phenomenon. Dr. Edward Sanders, a physician, ventures into the heart of the African rainforest where an inexplicable crystallization process is transforming the landscape and its inhabitants. As Sanders navigates the crystalline terrain, he encounters a series of strange and haunting events, including the crystallization of living organisms and the frozen moments of time. Ballard weaves a tale that blurs the boundaries between reality and fantasy, exploring the psychological and existential implications of the crystal transformation. The novel delves into themes of decay, metamorphosis, and the fragility of human existence.

Andy Hughes Sea Shimmer Sketch

Plastic Atrocity, 2023
Visual experiment

© Copyright 2024  Andy Hughes
All Rights Reserved

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