Durational film, An Invitation to Disappear, drifts seamlessly through an uninhabited forest, to a cyclical soundtrack which moves from the hard beats of electronic music to the muted rustlings of palm leaves, and back again. Immersed in a rave devoid of human life, this is the palm oil plantation of Mount Tambora: a volcano on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa, whose fateful name translates as ‘an invitation to disappear’.
In 1815, Tambora became active, triggering the largest volcanic eruption recorded in human history. Not only did Sumbawa’s inhabitants fall victim, the cloud of ash spread across the globe leading to a widespread cooling: snow plagued Europe and North America in mid-July, and 1816 became known as the ‘year without a summer’. Still, the volcanic winter also produced prolonged and brilliantly-coloured sunsets, chronicled by nineteenth century artists such as J.M.W. Turner in paintings renowned for their yellow-gold skies—incidentally, the very colour of palm oil.
Once a catalyst for valuable works of art, today Tambora is the source of another asset of international worth, with palm oil present in half of all supermarket products. Despite its global use, there is little awareness of the environmental consequences of palm oil extraction—the large-scale conversion of rainforests, and the destruction of endangered species’ habitats, for example. With the forest humming to the sounds of electronica beneath a heady golden mist, An Invitation to Disappear presents this decimation of nature as a short-sighted trance, or a Turneresque twilight, soon to draw to a close.
Exploring the myopic actions of humanity in a different sense is Metamorphism, which draws upon the artist’s discovery that every iPhone contains rare earth minerals, mined and displaced to sustain modern communications. Six large molten rocks stand in glass vitrines like geological specimens in a natural history museum; each formed from various technological devices, melted into an artificial lava, this is the geology of the digital era. If these polychromatic sculptures were mined again, one could rebuild the technology; these works are therefore geo-data, which simultaneously consider the future of our civilization’s artificial by-products.
Julian Charrière, born 1987 in Switzerland, lives and works in Berlin.