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'Forgetting Babylon' and 'Inquisitive Nature'

1 August - 1 September 2016 Andrew Christie (Guest Curator): 'Forgetting Babylon' This second iteration of Christie’s Babylon project continues with the use of collected library dust as its source of inspiration. Originating as Remembering Babylon at Waverley Library, born from a residency at Waverley Artist Studios, books were moulded and cast using only dust from the library archives and resin. Initially standing in place of the actual missing and stolen books from the collections, Forgetting Babylon expands on this practice and in addition literally takes a closer look at dust sourced from every corner of Fisher Library. From publications on psychology to poetry, business to biology, these dust particles from every level of the Fisher collection were taken to the university’s Sydney Microscopy and Microanalysis (SMM) department. Placed on carbon under a scanning electron microscope (SEM) the images produced provided the subjects to be reproduced as graphite drawings placed among others of everyday items found surrounding Fisher library such as a soda and sweetgum seeds. Commonality between the two sources suggests that beyond dust and detritus being tied to associations of banality and even death, they instead can invoke the vitality of past experience and excess. Where Remembering Babylon used this excess to bring lost knowledge back to life, Forgetting Babylon makes more ambiguous and playful connections with the everyday. In collaboration with Jack Stahel’s Inquisitive Nature these works constitute a collective endeavour which ultimately speaks to the importance of libraries as indispensible community spaces for social engagement critical thinking and creative exploration which should be nurtured in cohabitation with more recently adopted methods of learning and communicating. Jack Stahel: 'Inquisitive Nature' Humans often like to talk about what separates them from the rest of nature. Opposable thumbs, significant frontal lobes, mental symbols, abstract thought, the list is long. However there is nothing that separates humans more significantly than their simple tendency to label themselves as such. They use tools to figure these things out, to try and understand their environment and everything in it, and most importantly to understand themselves. In the process of attempting to understand their brains and minds, it is the tools that they use and the ways they use them that shapes the way they understand the information they retrieve in the process. Jack Stahel is a Sydney artist, and colloquially labels himself an ‘imaginary scientist.’ He is primarily interested in the different ways the human mind thinks about itself, and explores these ideas through modular installation and a variety of mediums. He believes the human mind to be both a first and final frontier of human exploration. It must be examined and experienced simultaneously, and answers are found at the intersections of scientific and personal experience, of tools and processes, of analysis and imagination.

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