A Distanced Reality
Whether fact or fiction, ruination is a part of today’s visual language - romanticised ancient worlds reduced to heavily preserved rubble, a sensationalised present of natural and war-torn wreckage broadcast by opportunistic media sources, and disastrous apocalyptic futures set in sublime landscapes. In the western world our experience of the ruin is either distanced or fleeting; transpiring in another place or time, or engineered to make way for skyscraping monuments signifying power and wealth. Using these ideas and experiences as his stimuli, Chris Ross has created an installation to evoke the aftermath of a mediated and timeless catastrophe.
Much like the remotely sensed destruction delivered by television, manufactured in movies and recorded in history, Ross has created a landscape in his interactive installation ‘Plush Ruins’ that is removed from reality. This work presents audiences with a tangible and physical experience that is make-believe. Soft pieces of discarded foam, left bare or encased in canvas, are piled and constructed as to simulate the aesthetic of catastrophe, whilst taking away any form of danger or fear. Just as children assemble and obliterate self-built structures, Ross’ sculptural creation can be erected and demolished for improvement or destructive pleasure by its audiences. Allowing the same level of engagement as television, a newspaper or a movie, there is no consequence, no injury and no horror in Ross’s installation, just the sight and knowledge of a catastrophic occurrence that has left the scene in pieces.
As is the case with interactive artworks, ‘Plush Ruins’ is an exhibition that will remain in flux throughout its showing. If encountered alone, the block-like fragments that form the sculptural installation will appear abandoned, an eeriness arising from their chaotic placement and quiet state. If the space is entered with others or is already occupied, the work will instantly be enlivened by the activity of audiences giving into architectural impulses. Though Ross has thoughtfully imbued his work with immense concepts, he relinquishes a level of aesthetic control to his audience, allowing the installation to evolve and transform via the ideas and actions of others.
-by Olivia Welch