Soil Culture Residencies

Paul Chaney

at Kestle Barton

During his residency Paul closely examined the resources available to the population of the Lizard Peninsula, and identified the practical survival skills, knowledge and a philosophy that could be useful in a post-apocalyptic society that is no longer part of the global economy. In the Lizard Exit Plan exhibition he uses a series of screenprints, cyanotype blueprints, and built structures to illustrate and test parts of this post-apocalyptic plan.

The project examines connections between environmental politics, site-specific art, and site-sensitive architecture, exploring the narrow separation between green ideology and survivalist fantasy. Producing an accurate replica of an ancient breast plough found in Helston Museum, Cornwall, made from forged steel and green chestnut, Breast Plough’o’metric is fitted with a series of digital strain gauges and a small on-board computer to allow the operator to record the exact amount of effort needed to plough some land by human power alone.

The work explores the metrics of direct human interaction with the land. Breast Plough’o’metric is designed to allow the calculation of the co-efficient of human labour – the amount of calories that can be gained from the cultivation of a given tract of land compared to the amount of calories burned during effort exerted. This represents a realist investigation into the ‘tyranny of labour’ – and the resistance of soil against human effort.

Paul Chaney is a self-taught artist researching through a mix of participatory and durational art practices both local and global in scale. Until 2012 he led FIELDCLUB – a micro-farm designed using bespoke computer software. Recently he has been investigating industrial growth and the agency of geological materials in Eastern Europe.


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