“Two Songs For a Changeling Earth” is a creative meditation on human and geological time. It consists of two related video works which arise from an engagement with two major collections housed at Geoscience Australia in Canberra: the National Mineral and Fossil Collection and the Petroleum Data Repository.
This project places geoscientific materials and practices into an artistic context, producing new figures by which to understand the relations between human activities and the deep time of the Earth.
The first work,“Der Abschied / The Farewell”, uses excerpts from the final movement of Gustav Mahler’s song symphony “Das Lied von der Erde / Song of the Earth,” as the soundtrack to a journey through the Petroleum Data Repository, an enormous warehouse filled with thousands of kilometres of core-samples drilled for oil and gas exploration over the past hundred years. Mahler’s work is a lament, it reflects on the brevity of human existence and the eternity of nature. Here, that lamentation is inverted to reflect on the geological richness that is un-earthed for the purposes of mineral extraction.
The second work, “Die Rükkehr / The Return” proposes a salve to this lament. Shot in the National Mineral and Fossil Collection and featuring a soundtrack by lap-steel guitar maestro Mike Cooper, the work explores a kind of geological fantasia; a fantasy engorged in the remarkable mineral forms that grow deep within the Earth, the emergent combination of diverse elements, pressures and temperatures operating at temporalities that utterly exceed everything that humankind does or will ever do.
In bringing together these divergent scientific and artistic worlds, the project inserts emotional and conceptual dimensions into thinking the relations between human and geological temporalities, proposing an understanding of mineral samples and drill cores as, quite literally, the “songs of the earth.”