British artist Marc Quinn explores our fraught and complex relationship with the natural world in his current exhibition, The Toxic Slime, at London's White Cube gallery. For the show, Quinn has created a series of sculptural paintings and stainless steel sculptures. The paintings are a reflection of our degraded seascapes and started out as a photo Quinn took of sunrise at a Caribbean beach, which he then altered in an aggressive manner. Inspired by Turner's representation of the sublime, Quinn says he wanted to make a more urban version of the concept "seen through the goggles of the environmental paradox that if you set off to see something, bit by bit your visit will ruin it," he writes for New Scientist.
First the images were printed onto canvas where they were then sanded and taped, before being spray painted using templates created from the flotsam and jetsam Quinn found on on the beach. The work was then put through the further ordeal of being taken out into the streets of London and battered onto drains and manholes covers to create an imprint on the canvas—one even reveals the words "Thames Water" stamped on it. He then stuck the canvas to pieces of aluminum which was further distorted by kicking, attacking and folding it. The effect was to make the pieces "look like a found object, from off the back of a truck, or the side of a plane that’s fallen out of the sky."
The second series of work in the exhibition is the sculptures which are called Frozen Waves. They're based on the aesthetic of conch shells which have been eroded by the sea and were created using a 3D scanner. "When a conch erodes, the thickest bit is the last to go. It ends up looking like a wave, the thing that produced it—nature’s self-portrait," Quinn says. "The shell’s purpose has become nebulous; it crosses the line between representational and abstract. One of the sculptures is over 7 metres long. The bigger they are, the more it is like being on a beach with a wave coming at you."
The Toxic Sublime - B(=/cUo-214!96c. Image: Marc Quinn Studio
The Toxic Sublime - 5$*5,)'^6$3Y]7w. Image: Marc Quinn Studio
The Toxic Sublime is at White Cube until 13 September 2015.