Milky Voids

Film and photographic series, 2003, 4:49 min

An installation at Botallack mine, Cornwall

Photographs: Phil Harrison (in collaboration with artist)

 

 

Milky Voids is a film and photographic series of an installation at the ‘Crowns’ section of Botallack tin and copper mine, in Cornwall (owned by the National Trust). The installation is archaeological: it comprises of a series of shallow trays that are suspended within deep depressions in the granite floor of Pearce’s Whim, the upper of the two former engine houses. The horizontal trays, filled with a thin layer of milk, echo the light filled apertures of the ruined structure. The whiteness and smoothness of the milk contrasts with the ruggedness of the stone, absorbing light and reflecting the pattern of wall openings. The milk provides movement, its gently rippled surface (discernible in the film of the installation) providing a ‘dramatic’ counterpoint to both the static granite and the continuous surge of the surf below.

Milky Voids uses the existing architecture as a protagonist in a non-rhetorical work that nevertheless does speak of loss. It is a work about absence. It uses the most transient (yet life-giving) of materials – milk – to create a piece where time is somehow suspended. It thus draws out a latent aspect of the buildings, their tendency towards a kind of temporal anamorphosis. This lies at the very heart of the sense of the uncanny, or unheimlich, that pervades the ruined site.