Listening is at the heart of designer/researcher Louis Braddock Clarke's work: listening to others and the landscape. He builds instruments that read, index and feel the landscape. Changes in the landscape, such as shifting magnetic values, are converted into sound, making these processes perceptible to humans. 'Much of my work focuses on narratives that lie between art and science, which are usually invisible and quite complex. I try to find creative ways to reveal them, using new technologies.'
Braddock Clarke always returns to the same material: iron ore, the metal that creates magnetic changes in the space around us. For his latest project, he is investigating a location in Greenland where a meteorite landed ten thousand years ago. In addition to a significant magnetic change, it was an event that set in motion many stories among the local population and later colonial rulers (Greenland only regained self-governance in 2008.) Due to the melting of the ice and the land's mineral wealth, enormous geopolitical interests are at play around these coordinates, which, in turn, generate new narratives.
Braddock Clarke has collected small parts of the meteorite sold and distributed around the world through internet auctions. He intends to return these fragments to their exact landing spot. By heating the pieces to a high temperature in situ, the magnetic values, which solidified at the moment the meteor struck, are reset, and they take on the new proportions of that moment and place. All history contained in the stone, especially the colonial, is erased, as it were. The material gets a fresh start from the 'earthly' spot it originates from (though, of course, it originally comes from space) and remains there.
The meteorite's return is in stark contrast to everything else that was taken from this place. This resonates with the locals Braddock Clarke works with, in addition to scientists, engineers, and natural history museums, among others. Since his practice focuses on collaboration, he is uncomfortable that only his name is associated with the Talent Development grant he received. As he explains, 'I'm obsessed with collaboration. For me, the future is about operating within these intensively collaborative dialogue spaces.'
Text: Victoria Anastasyadis