Note: the following is part of Glasstire’s series of short videos, Five-Minute Tours, for which commercial galleries, museums, nonprofits and artist-run spaces across the state of Texas send us video walk-throughs of their current exhibitions. This will continue while the coronavirus situation hinders public access to exhibitions. Let’s get your show in front of an audience.
Spontaneous future(s), Possible past is a site-specific artwork by artist Beth Campbell. The piece, commissioned by Landmarks, UT’s public art program, is installed in the Dell Medical School at UT Austin.
“Delicately charting the human condition with all the gravity and humor of real life, Beth Campbell’s drawing and mobile for the Dell Medical School reveals the interconnectedness of shared experience. The site-specific commission Spontaneous future(s), Possible past is rooted in Campbell’s ongoing drawing series begun in 1999—My Potential Future Based on Present Circumstances. The series draws upon the artist’s interest in rhizomatic structures, circuit boards, and early virtual worlds in order to map imagined futures or parallel lives. Her text-based drawing for Landmarks, My Potential Future Based on Present Circumstances (1/13/19), is the first that Campbell has made in this series in a decade. It draws parallels to spontaneous future cognition, a newly developing branch of cognitive psychology that explores the random and involuntary thoughts that individuals have about their future.
Campbell begins each drawing by considering a seemingly mundane or relatable moment from her everyday life—i.e. “I just sat on my brand-new glasses while getting into the car” or “I need to buy a new pillow.” She then uses gestural lines to diagram a flowchart of possible outcomes unfolding from the event, ranging from fantastic to tragic. Like neural networks, the drawings branch out in linear fashion, accumulating narrative tentacular strands that chronicle various possibilities resulting from choice or chance. The result simultaneously exposes parallel states of mind while questioning our relationship to the future.
Campbell’s mobiles extend her potential future drawings into three-dimensional space, expanding her thought process and hypothetical considerations into repeated forms that mirror one another like speculative visualizations of possibility. Referred to by the artist as “drawings in space,” the mobiles are made by forging steel wires by hand. They mimic the twists and turns of complex structures such as the human nervous system, an arboreal root system, or social networks.”