Untitled (bones), Nicole Clouston, series 2014/2015

Nicole Clouston

Untitled (bones)

In Untitled (bones) degradation and failure become methods for creation. Failures in the process begin to dictate the form of the work, arguably becoming the most interesting aspect of the sculpture itself. To create the sculpture the original bone was cast in plaster, and then the unaltered piece - including flashing and all other flaws - was cast again. I repeated this process 50 times to produce a stepped progression/regression. As each bone goes through this mold making process, a technology that is meant to produce fidelity, it becomes distorted. Any small flaws or excrescences due to the technical failure of the mould are amplified until the object becomes completely unrecognizable. There is very little control over the work beyond the selection of the original form and adherence to a method. As the sculpture was created, forms were discovered, not made. I understand this system of inquiry - discovery through experiment - as being closely related to the scientific method. Science informs the aesthetic of the piece, through the display method and subject matter, as well as the way the viewer perceives it. However, Untitled (bones) does not provide the kind of logical conclusion expected of science. Instead the sculpture is a failed science, it leaves a sense of ambiguity, questioning narratives of progress and the value of flaws. This ambiguity between progression and regression allows for the viewer to interpret what they see more openly, bringing their own experiences and becoming a co-producer in the meaning of the work itself.


Nicole Clouston received her MFA from the University of Victoria and is currently completing her PhD in Visual Arts at York University. In her practice, Nicole explores the beauty of chemical and biological processes, as well as the value that can be found in these experiments when their ability to communicate specific information is stripped away, by using scientific techniques as artistic medium in her sculptural work (such as thin layer chromatography, DNA-electrophoresis as well as bacterial culturing). Nicole has exhibited her work across Canada in Victoria, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal. Nicole was awarded a SSHRC Canada Graduate Research Scholarship and was the recipient of the Anne Lazare-Mirvish Award as well as the Robert S. & Muriel A. Raguin Graduate Scholarship.

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