Paul in front of the installation 'The Chemistry of Molecular Clouds' 2015
Theory: I have always been interested in how the physical world comes to be here, how it originates, how it maintains itself and its relationship to consciousness. Specifically, I am interested in experimenting with the perception of surfaces as a gateway into this domain.
During my student years in sculpture the intention was to assemble works from completely imagined materials. These were generated through processes that alluded to substantiation through the optical presence of their surfaces and synthesised through the inversion of their primary and secondary qualities. Form did not necessarily follow function but could usurp attempts at structural analysis through (for instance) the logic of dreams.
Today, it is fair to say that this functional inversion has been translated into an attraction for concepts that are contrarian, non-conformist or against the mainstream. Over the years I have gained a great deal from researching alternative, lost or unfashionable scientific theories, especially in the realm of astronomy. This has proved a fascinating journey and a revelation in terms of the imaginative possibilities it opens up. The series of artworks associated with this thread come within the remit of 'Cosmological Conceits', the humor of which attempts to describe the cosmic and sublime in terms of assemblages of the commonplace.
I am fascinated by this novel perception of the everyday. The world is a very strange place to be, the realisation of which can strike at the unlikeliest of moments. It is only by the application of tenuous mythologies that this perception of reality is kept in place. My experience is that these meta-narratives undergo inversion with alarming regularity. I hope to interest my audiences in accompanying me on this journey; a dérive through strange and unfamiliar perceptual landscapes.
And what of this perception? According to the theory of Julian Jaynes* the mind operates by the hallucinogenic transfer of temporal lobe metaphorical traffic. This both generates and evolves consciousness in an historic movement away from bicameral modes of thought. My artistic practice, in this context, can be seen to act both as a monitoring of this traffic and as a synthesis of new metaphorical and narrative content.
And underlying all of these, as I wrote at the outset, is the agency of light and how it 'stack spins' into the substance and morphologies of the physical world that we inhabit and which informs what it is that we are. This can be loosely described as 'Charge Field Theory' and has been interpreted in many ways throughout history. In the novel by Arthur Machen it is 'The Great God Pan' (1894), von Reichenbach's 'Odic Incandescence' (1788-1869), Bergen's 'Elan Vital' (1907) and Reich's 'Orgone' (1897-1957) but in other spheres has a more everyday presence. For instance, I am currently researching the practice of dowsing, not for the discovery of water as such, but how it maps the flow of charge emerging from the Earth. It is the concept of where we come from, how we perceive and where we are to return - not in any mystical sense, but entirely descriptively and pragmatically.
Sometimes these researches engage in a conversation with that pragmatic world in the form of Discursive projects and websites. My identity as an artist is temporarily metamorphosed into that of an astronomer, an archaeologist, a medical practitioner, musician, etc. so as to better understand those dialogues. Understandings from these processes feed back into the generality of my art practice and inform a continually evolving narrative.
*Julian Jaynes : 'The origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the bicameral mind'
Paul Malone 2015
Inhabiting the Sky
"I have lived in towns and cities all my life and yet have been aware that above is a landscape of grandeur and mystery that is equally compelling. Execute a simple inversion and suddenly there is a desert, a range of mountains and the familiarity of the city turns into a kind of weather. It is not a vista but a volume and inhabited by artefacts that have their own unique urban architecture. Not just the things themselves but the meta-structures of invisible organisation both natural and man-made.
Inhabiting this space too is a whole history of conceptual endeavor. Its very inaccessibility lends itself to speculation and interpretation based on the most flimsy evidence – a few grains of photographic emulsion, a mathematical tower of cards or an ethical conviction. The charting of this world has only just begun, with heroic yet barely adequate tools.
There have been audacious attempts at understanding; some we still live with, some fallen by the wayside. As an artist it is these narratives that I find the most intriguing. For me art is an opportunity to see where these arcane and forgotten theories would have lead - playful departures, now thought of as irrelevant or heretical, to the imperatives of unitarian structures. "
"When one is free to do anything, how is it that we decide what to do?"