Jacob Remin – Harvesting the Rare Earth
Artist Jacob Remin fabricates a hypothetical narrative as a conduit for a larger conceptual collection of work entitled ‘Harvesting the Rare Earth’ exhibiting at Overgaden
Overgaden Institut for Samtidskunst
January 28—March 19
Friday • January 27
January 18, 2017
Ida Elizabeth Larsen
Narrative as a medium for larger conceptual artworks is something that I feel I rarely encounter—or specifically, a fictive backstory used as a basis for narrative, which then drives a conceptual idea. Yes, of course, all works of art have some form of narrative or storytelling from position of the artist themselves, but these are usually more subjective rather than explicit.
Everyone loves a good story, but as we all know, not all stories are good. The ability to master literary devices like the use of allegory and metaphor to drive—and not drown—a narrative is an artform all on its own. The creation of fictional scenarios or realities, the conception of characters as symbols of larger human issues, or the introduction of a relatable protagonist in order for us to safely explore human existence and the relation between our own personal ecology and larger global ecology—these are all tools of an exceptional storyteller. And as a lover a good story and good use of allegory, I am drawn to it when it comes to me in a unique format.
This is what initially intrigued me about the upcoming work of artist Jacob Remin. His forthcoming collection of work entitled, Harvesting the Rare Earth, is driven by a fictional narrative which allows the work to represent both an actual and a hypothetical near-future earth “investigating the environmental and human consequences of our consumption and addiction to technology.”
Many of Jacob’s previous works have been focused on technology and fringe science, with some works like his 2014 Austrian exhibition Waveforms of the Earth introducing similar concepts of natural earthborn elements. Coming from a background in film, Jacob is no stranger to the use of narrative in his work, but he often simply uses narrative as a foundation from which to build the work—the hidden subtext to a more experiential story. His forthcoming exhibition is driven by the story of a technological breakthrough by fabricated company Hybrid Ventures—whether antagonist or protagonist, it is unclear—where the conceptual work explores our current economical, societal and environmental condition through the means fictional representation.
In Harvesting the Rare Earth Jacob Remin presents a hypothetical scenario of the near future in which the fictive biotech company Hybrid Ventures has developed a method enabling genetically modified caterpillars to harvest REE’s or Rare Earth Elements.
Can you tell me a little bit about where you are from and how you got started as an artist?
I have a background in filmmaking and experimental live video. I have always been fascinated by materials and machines, and at a certain point it made sense to dig deeper and study engineering.
Did your interest in engineering and interaction design come before your interest in expressing yourself as an artist, or vis-a-versa?
I was working as an artist before I started studying. To me, school was a place to acquire tools and skills, for the given mediums I center my practice around.
There is a larger environmental theme to your upcoming exhibition, is that a reoccurring subject in your work?
Rather than the environment, my focus is more on the fundamental nature of things and technologies; How do they work? What are they made of? How do they affect us as humans, and how do we interplay with them? The things we make and consume, tell us who we are and what our priorities are as a species. This is an ongoing exploration for me: for instance, part of this show is an older piece called Material Meditation from 2010, which focuses exactly on the blurring borders between technology and nature. To me, all of these things are part of the equation—”nature is part of the problem”
Can you tell me a little bit more in detail about your upcoming exhibition Harvesting the Rare Earth?
The exhibition takes form as a showroom for the presentation of bio tech company Hybrid Ventures’ latest innovation: a genetically modified butterfly, that can harvest rare earth elements of e-waste. Effectively turning the butterfly into a precision mining tool for the e-waste resources around the globe.
How did the piece go from idea to inception?
This specific exhibition was thought up during a workshop on “Transitive Wearables” by Agi Haines at CIID a few years ago. The exhibition has then evolved and expanded through my work with the subject matter of rare earth elements, very much so, through my latest solo exhibition Cloud Computing which revolved around the internet and the material infrastructures that support our cloud based existence.
Do you often work in larger series of work—with concepts that span across multiple pieces? Or is each piece a stand-alone concept?
Larger series. Concepts span across several years and exhibitions.
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