Richard Grayson: Weird Shit in Nature

31 Jan-24 Mar 2024
PV 28 Jan 2024, 2-5pm

Matt’s Gallery
London SW11 7AN


A new exhibition of sculpture, video and augmented reality exploring a world where the weight of human-made material has come to exceed that of 'natural' material.

A paper recently published in the journal Nature reported that in 2020, for the first time, the weight of human-made material on the planet exceeded that of the calculated bio-mass: there is now more human-made material than ‘natural’ material. This matter has penetrated all areas of the globe: artificial substances are detected throughout the food chain, microplastics are inside our bodies and in the air and in the high mountains.

W.S.I.N. (Weird Shit In Nature) uses sculpture, 3D modelling, digital animation and Augmented Reality to model a world where the materials of culture/technology have seeped into nature and taken root. A world where smart materials and distributed intelligences leach into mineral and organic matrixes to become new entities, where hybrid beings grow from forever chemicals and micro-plastics in rocky outcrops.

W.S.I.N. centres on a collection of diverse objects that flicker between models or sculptures referencing 20th century modernist bio-morphic sculpture, atomic/molecular models, pollens seeds, mathematical forms, nano-technologies, plastic waste, micro-plastics, discarded concrete and minerals.

They exist in the digital realm, built and animated with Blender, an open-source 3D modelling and animation programme that Richard Grayson started learning to use during lockdown. Here they shift between animate and inanimate states; rocks walk, spinning matrixes of plastic-eating bacteria fall to the ground and shatter, there are constant shifts from micro to macro, from simple subtle individual movements to large scale flocks.

Modernist art practices of the 20th century often abstracted and refined forms from nature seeking some form of essence (analogous to extraction and refinement of natural material in industry) to be used in culture. W.S.I.N allows Biomorphic abstractions to escape the white room and the pedagogic display, to run free in a nature where even simple minerals take on new roles and agency as the world and atmosphere warms, carbons trapping heat and silicons speeding AI.

The W.S.I.N entities might be new hybrid nature gods, components of vast structures, certain forms of ‘modern sculpture’, spirits of place, monsters, mutations, art-forms, non-human intelligences, pollution, or weird things that breed in the damp hollows of the internet of things. They are things where boundaries between virtual and material, animate and animate, blur and shift.

With thanks to the Richard Grayson Exhibition Supporters Circle for their generous support.