Artist Daniel V. Keller has released his first book in collaboration with the Cultural Foundation of Canton Thurgau, published by Jungle Books. The London-based artist, originally from Switzerland, “treats the book as an individual work in itself”, he tells It’s Nice That. It documents a research project, specifically “the geology of today” and how small factors impact the urban meshwork that we deal with on a daily basis. The special edition is printed in a run of 50 copies including an orange PVC-mesh sleeve that hints to this conceptual undertone.
Titled, For a Fish Tank or a Parking Lot, Daniel investigates the ecological and cultural significance of gravel and sand in the book”. The artist focuses on how gravel is shaped into different contexts that “change the stream of life” through their various uses. As mounds of gravel form the foundation of many architectural structures, Daniel comments on how he wants to “question the supposedly small, nondescript elements that form the world we live in”.
“Stones are numbered and can, therefore, be identified” the artist adds on the meticulous documentation within the book. As a result, these inanimate objects “propose a significance which contrasts with their origin; extracted out of a commodity chain which is formed of a bag of aggregates.” Within the book, the delicately photographed stones are accompanied by 15 computer-rendered fictional environments, “constructed with elements of the human-built world” but desolate and abandoned, creating a sense of surreal eeriness within each digitised scene.
Daniel describes these hyperreal digital constructions as “post-human fictional landscapes” which are “bizarre and partly theatrical”. He lets the viewer create their own interpretation between these rendered realities and the stark photographs of the stones, but hints to their connection relating to “the ruins of the future” and the increasing consumption of our precious natural resources. In turn, the photography and digital illustrations complement each other aesthetically, and conceptually. Every page exudes a sense of coolness wrapped in technological adeptness and conceptual intrigue.
Designed by Samuel Bänziger, Rosario Florio and Larissa Kasper, the book also features a fictional essay by Maurits de Brujin who “traces a mountain that has been reduced to small pieces by eroding and sedimentation. It has been cut and sliced by humans who have then re-erected the sediment into various structures such as skyscrapers.” Through the essay, computer-rendered illustrations and documentary photography, Daniel’s first artist book explores a multi-faceted engagement with “this shared space we live in”, commenting on how we take seemingly insentient objects like stones and gravel for granted. The artist finally adds, “I wonder about this shared space we live in, about ecologies and the human-lithic relationships we are entangled in.”
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