Carbon Equation 2009

Sculpture by the Sea Aarhus, Denmark 2009


A Stacked firewood Installation referencing the tumbling ruins
of an architectural remnant – a metaphor of our earthly home.

‘Carbon Equation’ uses firewood to draw the metaphor of the contemporary human perception of Earth as a ‘global home’. As we see the stored carbon in wood being depleted incrementally, as humans claim more land for housing and industry, we face the continuing depletion of global home comforts. We can already foretell the consequences of denuding further hillsides of tree cover. It is like burning the cladding of our own home structure. Once the walls are depleted we need to burn more resources just to keep comfortable, and so the cycle goes…

This sculpture is designed to be constructed using local firewood wherever it may be exhibited. This minimises the wood freight costs, which is the cost of the global energy resource – stored carbon in fossil fuels. Through such choices made on a minute scale of individual responsibility, we earth dwellers effectively slow down the impending imbalance of the earth’s Carbon Equation.

The Architectural Ruin and remnant Chimney symbols are icons of the Australian landscape. For 2 centuries Europeans have tried to settle the harsh continental countryside with varying degrees of success. With European sentiments and sensibilities the architecture echoed great Northern Hemisphere edifices, however the Australian land was not always able to support the livelihoods of the builders and their communities.

Dotted around marginal lands of Australia, often bordering vast desert tracts, we can find stone ruins of whole towns half submerged in windblown sands and earth. The lone chimney in a field is often the last standing testament to the lives of pioneers and entrepreneurs who thrived and then were driven off the land.

In the 21st Century, even with economic prosperity at all time highs, there are more ruins of homes than ever before. Fire in the Australian landscape is becoming common and increasingly destructive. Over 200 homes were burnt in Canberra in 2003 and this summer, in central Victoria, more than 800 homes were incinerated by wildfire.

The climate has been increasing in mean temperatures and the resulting bushfires prove that the carbon balance is less stable than ever before. Through the media we are now able to sense the carbon equation of the overall Earthly globe. Through equating the use of fossil fuels and trees with a contribution to global climate effects we have each become directly responsible for the health of the Earth. Through living in the midst of the Eucalyptus species, Australians are acutely aware of the runaway effects of global warming. During temperatures of 45 degrees and in high winds, burning Eucalypt forests have been seen to explode into huge fireballs. They emit the most deafening of roars and leave very little life in their wake…

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