b. 1969, Adelaide
Lives and works in Adelaide
Matthew Bradley's sculptural and performative works are the result of an experimental and original approach to thinking and making. Qualities of art relevant to his practice include those that are akin to the work of the cosmologist, the physicist and the engineer. He is known for a restrained and methodical approach to materials and form, and philosophically robust engagements with notions as diverse as risk, delinquency, power, the evolution of consciousness, the origins of the universe, the fatal attraction of the horizon and the complicated relationship of these notions to the intellectual advancement of society and the psychic renewal of the individual citizen.
“There is the line and there is crossing the line. Then there is making your own path...“ (excerpt from Artists Statement, 2006)
FOREST OF LIGHTNING
AUSTRALIAN EXPERIMENTAL ART FOUNDATION
ARTIST STATEMENT -
In A Forest of Lightning Matthew Bradley presented an installation of sculptural works that combined organic and inorganic matters with discarded bits of domestic appliances and urban infrastructure. This immersive environment registers a series of interconnections between the natural world and the infrastructure of civilisation.
This project furthers Bradley's investigations into the human relationship with the natural world, civilisation's exposure to entropy and the ingenuity born of the instinct for survival.
The light pole was found at -34.931031, 138.578686, beneath the Hilton Bridge. The space beneath the bridge is in a narrow margin - between the Westernmost edge of the parklands which encircle Adelaide's CBD, and the beginning of the Western suburbs. The partially buried pole was excavated and moved to the gallery for the duration of the exhibition. At the end of the exhibition it was returned and placed back in the exact position in which it was found.
DESTROYER OF WORLDS
ARTIST NOTES -
Time is the fire in which we burn.
The physical appearance of one of my first 'failed' metal casting experiments began a trajectory of thought which gave rise to an imagined narrative of a Precambrian Earth/Alien encounter. In this narrative; during a great battle in space, set against a boiling black Earth, gouged and crackling with volcanic lava, fragments of the debris of a destroyed spacecraft fall through the proto-atmosphere toward the surface of the planet. Something about the surface texture of this early casting suggested to me the patina one might expect of an ancient alien relic. Something exotic was possesed by and expressed by the materiality of this object, in the specific configuration of its particles suspended in space. The very alienness of the thing itself failed to undermine the emerging fiction, somehow in fact it lent it some plausability. The material reality of the artefact Remnant is unequivocal. It has a presence as a thing with real mass and weight, a presence that bears the evidence of its coming into being. It is a factual relic of a casting event. Its appearance is not simulated, it’s a direct result of the method and moments of its creation and it asserts a truth of being that is uninterrupted and uncorrupted right the way through and beyond its subatomic dimentions. It also has, by chance, and attempted managed failure, the patina one might expect of an object that fell through the atmosphere, onto the surface of the Earth, was folded into the Earths crust, melted by geologic heat, recast in its Earthen mould and finally excavated a billion and a half years later.
Andromeda, What would it be like to be a superbeing, What would it be like to have superpowers, to skip from galaxy to galaxy, planet to planet simply by casting your gaze. Andromeda is the golden leg of a super being, an artefact from our nearest galaxy. It was formed around a cast of my own leg. It looks like a piece of lower leg armour, like a piece of iron mans suit but without all the weaponry. In my mind it differs from the traditional suit, it has special properties. For instance, a traditional suit is made up of pieces which are specifically moulded for one part of the body, and which are not exchangeable with any other part; you cannot wear a shin piece on your head for instance. However this piece could be the whole rather than a fragment. It could be caught mid-transformation, shifting from a non-human machinic object and growing into a human form, exploiting compatibility at a sub-atomic level. Also, is there a vulnerable being inside it which is being protected? Perhaps not, perhaps it is the thing in itself, a thoughtform, a vitality, or a potentiality of being that is traversing matter. It has become a vehicle through which I can speculate on latent potentialities present and extant within matter itself. Might we or do we already enter into assemblages with matter that extend our abilities or further, enable unlimited access to manifold forms of being.
There is infinity in vessel design, an inexhaustible catalogue of possible forms. I've decided to stay a while in this infinity, for the time it takes me to make One Hundred Vessels. Can these One Hundred vessels world, can each of them bring forth a whole world, a whole other infinity itself? Worlds with their own atmospheres, geology, flora and fauna, cultures, peoples, systems of beliefs, political structures, universes, such that shifting ones gaze between them might cause a sensation of geographic, psychic, cosmic and temporal drifts. Together they sit, worlds upon worlds upon worlds. Worlds unrecorded in human history, interstices between known civilisations. Lost, buried, excavated.
So far, as far as castings go, many of the vessels have been failures, but it is important to the overall project that they are included in the set. The set of one hundred, when finished, should tell the whole story of my development and gradually improving ability as a metal caster. This journey should be evident in the vessels themselves. There should be evidence of struggle and of failure, there should be evidence of technical breakthroughs as well as observable periods where ambition, inspiration and imagination flourishes. From a practical point of view, the ultimate goal is significant bridging of the gap between what can be imagined and what can be technically produced.
In the centre of this group of works sits the furnace that I built at the beginning of this adventure. A crucible full of molten bronze, as it comes out of the furnace, looks like a small sun. The furnace is a sun factory or galaxy. These little suns form the centre of a new solar system in my backyard. All my efforts, my labour and my dreams orbiting this little furnace. In the gallery the furnace is cold and silent, all its heat and light has radiated out into space. The time of this little furnace is known as The Year of a Thousand Suns. The sun is the giver of life, in whose warmth and light we reside for a time. When a sun dies, its core contracts, the helium atoms in the core fuse together forming carbon atoms under the enormous pressure of its own gravity. It is thought that dead suns are full of diamonds.
CACSA CONTEMPORARY/SASA GALLERY
ARTIST STATEMENT -
The formwork corresponds exactly with the proportions of a form found in the Gobi desert on Google maps. This form can be found by typing the coordinates - 40.479234, 93.477444
Often material evidence, lays bare the way something was made as well as it's function. Sometimes layers of material abstraction form over mysterious cores, concealing both the evidence and utility of the constructions. Sometimes a thing is not reducible to its material elements nor to any symbolic equation. A thing can have a physicality that is immediately accessible; a materiality that is apparent and evident, apparent to all the senses. It can have its constituent elements analysed weighed and measured. It's form assessed for insight into what might be it's intended function. Patterns and symbols deciphered. Sometimes we encounter a thing about which vast quanta of data can be collected, yet for all this, it's purpose, function and meaning remains entirely mysterious and intellectually insoluble.
Gobi desert, 40.479234, 93.477444
AUSTRALIAN EXPERIMENTAL ART FOUNDATION
PROJECT NOTES -
'chop your own wood and it will warm you twice' - Henry Ford
I've started working in the shed in the backyard this year. It's been freezing out there, almost too cold to work. I decided to make a wood burning heater.
The metal cylinder which forms the main body of the heater comes out of an old electrical hot water system that no longer works. Wood fire is an older technology so in a way the heater is going into technological reverse. As my being able to make work into the future will depend on me being warm enough in the studio, this solution of a woodburning heater reminds me that progress is not always achieved by just moving forward on a straight path. Sometimes we are able to advance by going backwards.
The heater will be an intrinsic part of my creative process and perhaps therefore as much an art work as anything I make whilst fueled by its heat. The heater, the warmth and capacity to work and the work output itself all seem intra- rather than inter-related which challenges the discreteness of the output. The separateness between the process and the outcomes become less obvious. Increasingly I am interested in shifting and distorting the framing of work and the conventions of the exhibition, in doing so they start to appear arbitrary, artificial and ultimately very malleable.
SPACE CHICKENS HELP ME MAKE APPLE PIE
EXHIBITION TEXT -
Matthew Bradley’s practice has always been concerned with machines. A certain kind of machine-system that relates to making possibilities, constructing processes of becoming and opening up the present to the potentials of the universe. These concerns follow through into his current exhibition; Space Chickens Help Me Make Apple Pie. He has constructed a model of a neoclassical space observatory that is being used as a chicken coup and as a model for the workings of the universe. Bradley’s Chicken Observatory is an obscure form of a machine. It is a machine of resonance and exchange, rather than a machine of production (although, it does produce eggs and apple pies!). The Chicken Observatory envelops more than just its immediate surroundings, both in the gallery and in Bradley’s neighbour’s back yard, where the chickens roost. It takes into account the mechanics of the universe; the chicken coup is a physical object that is also a transcendent machine. Not a literal machine like Bradley’s Monster Bike (2007) or Air cannon from Not how to make an Air Cannon (2006). The chicken Observatory is an epistemological venture. An attempt to understand more deeply the old chicken and the egg.
Delicately and beautifully constructed by Bradley, the Chicken Observatory is made from scrap wood he had lying around in his back yard. Making a connection with his neighbour, Bradley has created an exchange whereby he has constructed a home for the chooks in return for some eggs. With these eggs he has been making apple pies. Really delicious apple pies. Bradley has developed an association between his neighbours chooks and an interstellar constellation nicknamed ‘Space Chicken’ for its rather obscure resemblance to a chickens face. Writing about the Observatory Bradley says “I imagined a chicken looking in the eyepiece of a telescope and saw galaxies in the eyes of astronomer chickens.” We could suppose that the chooks are looking at the space chicken and questioning their own origins. The chickens are at once the observer and observed; the scientists in the grandeur of their observatory, and the giant space chicken, watching over the universe. Again, the chicken and the egg.
There is an aesthetic shift in Bradley’s recent work, a move away from literal machines. He has re-approached the world through a different medium in order to feel the world’s vibrations through a different field. This shift refocuses his investigation towards a more philosophical study of the mechanics of the universe. What remains the same throughout Bradley’s practice is his physical presence within the making of the machine. His body is involved, and his presence is implied, both in the chicken observatory and in the apple pie, Bradley is looking at notions of exchange, of becoming, at how things fit together. If the universe is a machine, then each of its parts is a point of infinite facility, operating in exchange with each other part of the machine. This process, a device for constructing the universe, is a multiplicity of points, interconnected and responsive. Everything exists in an unfolding, mutable flux of exchange.
The point of infinite facility is a concept that informs Bradley’s practice. Part physics, part philosophy and part Bradley’s own, beautiful reasoning. He describes them as having “no mass, no colour, they do not spin or vibrate, they cannot be seen or touched, they have no property at all until assigned one.” The point of infinite facility refers to particles, points in space, things that are unnamable, unrepresentable, and seemingly unavailable. These points can take on properties, can think themselves into thingdom. There is a moment of immanence where they suddenly become. Its quasi-scientific, but it is also a little bit magical/spiritual.
All it takes is a moment, the right moment. A moment of collision or connection, or resonance where all the right things extend and become at the right frequency. And then perhaps it collapses, in order for other connections to be made; a retraction of parts, an un-becoming, disappearing. In particle science it is referred to as quantum magic, where, if collided at the right speed, particles can disappear into pure energy. This energy holds within it, potential, a ‘not-yet’.
The point of infinite facility is another way of looking at the materiality of the universe. It is way of seeing the cosmos not as a physical thing, but as a process, or a thought. In this way, one thing leads into another, and everything becomes connected. It is not time/space/material, but a constant, changing thought machine with potential to become anything. In this case, an apple pie, a chicken coup, and some potentially enlightened chickens. Bradleys Space Chickens Help Me Make Apple Pie isn’t a metaphor for the workings of the universe, it is the universe in action. Because, as Carl Sagan points out, 'If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, first you must invent the universe".
- Catalogue essay by Adele Sliuzas
NEW VEHICLES AND EXPLORATION
EXHIBITION TEXT -
Pre-Cook exploration of this continent, by non indigenous peoples, was a subject I was interested in and subsequently became an area of much research. Rather than re-presenting history, I wanted to live or 'perform' the evidence of my research some how. The center piece of this project is a model of a 17th century Dutch sailing ship. It is the evidence/result of a 'performance' over 4 months as an amateur model ship builder. It is accompanied by a suite of drawings and a painted portrait of Abel Tasman. The portrait is imagined to have been painted on board the Heemskerk. Abel has just returned to the lower decks just after realizing he had confirmed to himself that the Great Southern land was not connected to Antarctica.