A Felicitous Neo-past


A Felicitous Neo-Past is a project that generates an intervention in the layer of the latest geological epoch. It contains two main parts: a small piece of “human traces free” land (52°25'7" N, 4°47'54" E) and relics of Anthropocene which are shown through a group of installations.

To create the small piece of “human traces free” land, the artist chose a one square meter area at the artificial land of ADM(Amsterdam), which was reclaimed during the decade after WWII (1950s-1960s). After excavating throughout the thickness of the reclaimed layer, the artist remediated the soil through sorting, washing and rinsing process to erase human traces, which mainly include synthetic polymers and other chemicals (redundancies of technological nutrients) and rubble for the surface hardening (historical/cultural relics). Then the hole was backfilled and recovered with treated earth, and became a permanent man-made geological marker on the engineered land in which contains “no human message”.

The Installation presents relics through four pairs of soil monoliths. Each pair consists of two soil section samples which were excavated from the inside(remediated) and the outside of the hole. A webcam system is constantly observing the monolith and trying to unscramble the pattern. Meanwhile, all the rubble is poured on the floor with a wind vane and a neon sign (a quote from the propaganda of Marshall plan) on top.

These shown traces are formed through the joint effects of human activities, bio-geo-chemical processes, energy and global circulation. Thus, they are the history of Gaia as a complex interconnected system rather than merely the past of humanity. The title A Felicitous Neo-Past indicates the urgent needs of ‘re-member’ (D. Haraway, 2016) of human as “an isolated species”.

In collaboration with Heather Leslie (senior scientist at Environment and Health Dep. VU, Amsterdam)

Venue support: ADM Amsterdam

Sponsored by: Zonmw

Facilitate by: MU ArtSpace

Installation view

Soil monoliths from the inside of the hole(remediated earth)

Soil monoliths from the outside of the hole(reclaimed earth)

Close up of the soil monolith(reclaimed earth)

The webcam system is living streaming the close up of the monolith while sending photo to an online computer vision algorithm and getting back visually similar images, and also screening other related video and images, which reveals the interconnection among the artificial land, past of humanity and random entities

The neon sign “Whatever the weather, we only reach welfare together” (a quote from the propaganda of Marshall plan) lays on the rubble with a random spinning wind vane in the center. Apart from adding a new layer of the term “weather”, it questioning the term “we” as the subject of “welfare” in the age of Anthropocene

Intervention process
for more info: projectanon2017.tumblr.com

The location

Excaviation process(rubble layer)

Reserved grass layer

Excaviation process(reclaimed earth layer)

The bottom of the hole(the original seabed layear is revealed)

Washing and rinsing