Miguel Palma

Ecosystema, 1995

Ecosystema conveys a critique about worldwide growth, the excesses of industrialization, and the pollution entailed by the decline of our society. Inside a see-through plastic cover, used to protect luxury cars, there are two gridded levels. Factory maquettes, on a scale of 1:100, are arranged on the upper level, while the lower level contains models of houses which recreate the plan of an urban space. At regular intervals, about every 45 seconds, a huge blower reverberates, at the same time as the interior of Ecosystema lights up. For about 15 seconds, a huge metal tube then starts to spit sawdust over the buildings; the sawdust gradually covers the maquettes, before escaping through the lower grid, where it will be used to be once again blown over the levels of the constructions. Through this work, the notions of cycle and recycling are merged; a cycle is set up, made of detonations of sound and light, which are each time like a tearing in space and time. This cycle is the cycle of the everlasting return, presented in an endless circularity. Miguel Palma here applies the metaphor of the “ecosystem”, which defines a natural balance and contrasts it with the industrialized world which is also meant to preserve its balance, like a living organism subjected to a rhythm of growth and death. It suggests the disappearance to which we will be doomed when our industrialized world no longer manages to recycle the harmful materials it has produced. However, beneath this ecological critique lurks a “bachelor machine” operating in a closed circuit. The tube which spits the sawdust inside the see-through cover is actually part and parcel of a mechanism which merely refers to itself, within a closed, hermetic world. Through its anthropomorphic scale, Ecosystema prompts the spectator’s identification. However, when this latter looks through the car cover, as if through a window, he discovers a Lilliputian world which he physically surveys, a world which is both alien and familiar to him, for its organic cycle takes him back to his own world. But this world is devoid of any trace of dwelling, it is abandoned. This autistic mechanics produces nothing, and turns out to be sterile; no life can develop therein. The only inhabitant is the powerless spectator, who is kept outside this world.

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