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My practice is in conversation with ecological contexts and philosophical theories as I explore humanity’s role as material manipulators. I examine the relationships between materials and their sensitivities, the accumulation of objects, various timescales, and the ways that meaning is formed through physical configurations. I collect objects found in my local surroundings and transform them through various sculptural techniques and installation strategies, exploring their relationships to timeliness, human ingenuity, and material pervasiveness within our cultural and environmental landscape.

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In my most recent work, I constructed a speculative, future archeological site where objects of play and leisure are unearthed and presented in a semi-museological structure.  The installation contains sculptures composed of preexisting, prefabricated plastic objects as well as new objects made from both fresh and recycled plastics. Materials such as seaweed, tennis shoes, and petroleum jelly are housed inside these objects. Specifically chosen found objects such as bristlecone pine seeds, a conus textile shell, a french fry, and an aloe plant litter the site as well. The space is organized through rigid lines and forms, alluding to a tennis court, a playground, or a garden emphasized through added structural components such as floor tilings and modular pedestals.

This site investigates concepts of deep time, particularly non-human scales of time, to look at the possibility that plastics will not return to the earth through their chemical makeup, and connects them to human's endless persistence towards leisure, comfort, and play. Materials are deconstructed and remixed, orienting objects that speak to different moments in time within their material timelines and allow them to interact in the present. In this immanent state of being, plastics and their interwoven material predecessors can bear witness to the shifts that will occur over eons, observing potential futures that humans have no way of knowing or conceiving in our current position as finite ecological manipulators.

Austin Caswell, Winter 2024

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