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Semiconductor, Inferno Observatory, 2011.

Inferno Observatory (2011)

Inferno Observatory (2011) is a multi-channel moving image work that explores the complex relationship between humans and natural phenomena. The work was developed during a fellowship at the Mineral Sciences Laboratory at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington DC. Here, Semiconductor unearthed a 16mm volcano film archive filmed by volcanologists in the field. The archive reveals spectacular occurrences, as well as curious, obsessive and sometimes absurd processes of observing and studying volcanoes

In this new commission, the works from the volcano film archive have been re-contextualised to emphasise and examine three distinct relationships: the erupting volcano as all-powerful and humbling; the spectacle, as people gather to watch in collective amazement, and finally, the taming of the volcano through scientific probing and human interaction.

The work is installed on cube monitors varying in size with multi-channel sound. The cubes form an intrinsic sculptural component of the work. Clumped together and piled-up, the analogue screens sit like glowing boulders, evoking the unfamiliar and disrupted volcanic terrain observed and filmed by the volcanologists.