Materials: Recycled glass jars, mild steel rods and plate, printed information. Dimensions variable, site
dependant. To 3.3 m tall.
400 parts is installed and exhibited for the
2016 Palmer Sculpture Biennial.
The title of the work refers to 400 parts per million CO2, what had been an important
reference point in marking the rise of the Earth's atmospheric carbon dioxide. The title of the work
also refers to the number of individual elements in the work.
In addition to my business experience and studies prior to setting-up my visual arts practice, I have a Diploma of
Sustainability which formalised my concern and some learnings about Climate Change and the
consequences to the world from it.
400 parts also refers to the number of elements in this work. There are about 400 glass jars mounted on
steel poles driven into the hard ground of Palmer.
Each jar contains a brief printed message that falls within 3 separate categories: my personal feelings
about Climate Change and the lack of action in remediating it (including anger, frustation, dismay);
facts about Climate Change (with each documented showing the URL and a QR code for that URL);
and lastly good news about addressing Climate Change where individuals, organisations, and governments
(mainly local, state and regional rather than national/federal) are taking action to reduce or eliminate
their CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions.
Climate Change is such a complex issue that there are just too many facts about it for the average person to
comprehend, which makes it easy for the doubt merchants to cherry-pick facts to support their rants
against anthropogenic Climate Change. Likewise, visitors to the Palmer Sculpture Biennial who walk though this
work simply can't take-in all the information - there's just too much and it becomes overwhelming.
When I proposed this work for the Palmer Biennial in mid-2015, the average global CO2 level was less than 400ppm.
That level was surpassed in January 2016.
This work is my most ambitious art project ever and many times during the fabrication and installation of it
I wondered why I had proposed it. Sometime soon I will separately document the arduous process for both the making and
the installation but the project became very personal to me and I felt like it was 'one man making a difference'.
It really became somewhat of a heroic struggle that I had to complete. Because I had committed to making and
installing this work for the Palmer Sculpture Biennial, and also to show that one person, more or less on their
own, can make a difference.
Each rod and jar assembly was installed by first drilling a 16mm ∅ hole using a rotary hammer drill,
then banging a slide hammer piston into the hole to firm-up the shape (8 - 14 hits per hole, sometimes having to redo
the hole from scratch), then inserting the rod/jar assembly into the hole, and finally banging the dirt around
the embedded rod to better support it. Repeat x 400 times. And then there were issues to deal with like tools
breaking, drill bits needing to be replaced, and there aren't hardware stores around the corner at Palmer.
It was exhausting working on site at Palmer in full sun when it was 35-39° doing very physical work.
Installation took nearly a full week. I lost a lot of weight in the process. I appreciate the support
provided by Jeff and Denni Ebert of the Palmer Hotel, donations of jars by many friends, conceptual advice
and feedback from George, the physical assistance of good friends Tim and Geoff, and more support
and encouragement than I deserved from my wonderful wife, Beth.
I'm happy how the work turned-out. I invite you to walk through it as that's the best way to experience it.
My quick pitch about anthropogenic Climate Change and its proof (very simplified):
Some useful references include:
Don't give up - you can make a difference.