Julian Charrière Uses Lava to Transform Computer Trash into Mysterious Stones

For sculptor Julian Charrière, it’s impossible to separate nature and culture. His works investigate the complicated means through which civilization and the landscape are inextricably linked. He traces the unexpected connections between remote areas of our globe and our culture’s rapid technological advancements. For New York’s Armory Show, the Berlin gallery Dittrich & Schlechtriem presented a new series by Charrière that continues his exploration of our human-altered landscape.

Charrière’s latest project continues his interest in our technology-addled environment. The series, titled “Metamorphism,” turns to the ever-growing piles of obsolete technological devices that are fast covering the world. Charrière’s clever move is to melt these gadgets using artificial lava, thus unifying, through geological processes, some of Earth’s oldest elements and our culture’s latest gizmos. Though such blurring of geographical ages serves to highlight the differences between these materials, they also share certain functions. Geological strata can serve as a physical timeline, “storing” the Earth’s changes and history just as computer data stores our own histories—albeit over a much shorter period of time.

While Charrière’s sculptures are, in many ways, a conceptual project, his works also shine as aesthetic objects. The process of melting down technology creates multicolored stones with an aura of mystery. A single work will feature cleanly cut stone on one side and otherworldly patches of blues, yellows, and reds on the other. Elsewhere, cross-sections of Charrière’s molten stones form a series of wall-works; the arrangement of some, like Metamorphism VIII (2016), suggests fossilized skeletons.

Together, the works form an evocative look at an environment that consists of organic material as much as it does the artificial byproducts of our civilization. These works of so-called “cultural crystallization” find beauty within a world that is changing—in some ways for the better, but, in many more ways, for the worse.


—Andrew Wagner


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