Textile, Ceramics, and Sound, 2023
The black gold of
the golden state,
what do you sound like?
The Monterey Formation is a geologic formation that holds around 11 million years of history. Visual signs of deep ocean currents and life on Earth are embedded within its layers of sandstone, shale, and limestone. And from that life, a resource instrumental to the economic development of California–oil. So much so, that most of the information we have on this sedimentary formation comes from oil companies assessing these rocks. While in residency at UC Santa Barbara, I was surrounded by the Monterey every time
I walked Ellwood Beach. Towering above the sandy shores were layers of rock that had been folded, or distorted, as a result of plate tectonics pushing and pulling the earth.
Ellwood Beach was underwater less than forty-five thousand years ago. The now exhumed ancient channel was home to foraminifera and diatoms, tiny single-cell organisms with and without shells, respectively. Over millions of years, those organisms fossilized into rock and became the source material for some of the largest oil pools in California. Using foraminifera specimens and image slides from past research on the Monterey, I created a series of foraminifera ceramic sculptures that underlie the textile work. With foraminifera being barely visible to your naked eye, I decided to enlarge them to a size that was comfortable to cradle in your hands.
Clay, harvested bentonite ash, iron-oxide glaze.
Glass beads, embroidery floss, thermoplastic, acorns, iron, steel, cotton, stress.
Because of their resemblance to sound waves and wavelets, I wanted to hear what the folds in the Monterey sounded like. I was able to do so using Max 8, a visual patching program for prototyping software. With the help of Pau Rosello Diaz, Master of Science student in the Media Arts and Technology program at UC Santa Barbara–I transmediated images, drawings, and seismic reflection profiles into sound. The result was a haunting chorus (not unlike the sounds that come from a blackhole) that rose and fell with the anticlines and synclines of the sedimentary layers. I used this audio within the installation of Good Dirt. The soft and bassy sound transporting a viewer into something like an underwater landscape, an abandoned spaceship, or perhaps in the center of the earth.