Roman Lead

A fascinating proposition is that objects may not be physical, their volume diffuse rather than localised. That there exists, and always has existed, a measure of objecthood that takes into account it’s existence through time and across space.

The interconnectedness of our technological world may be predated and described by earlier systems that were just as globalised as, say, worldwide telecommunications systems. The mining of lead in the Roman age, for example, can be traced in the arctic snow. Lead particles were dispersed from the mines and left deposits that were buried. By drilling a tube of snow in the arctic ground, the placement and density of lead marks the time the Romans mined for lead, and the depth of impression left in the earth’s atmosphere.

The possibility that lead may become diffuse through human manufacture and effect the world in this globalised way is one thing. But what scientists are left with is a physical object that ‘contains’ a diffusion through time and across space. The natural transformation that occurs produces a sculptural visualisation of data, the ambience of time and space are solidified in an autonomous object.

The scientists of the arctic perapse did not see this object as ‘sculptural’. My attention is on the art object. Just as contemporary telecommications systems are echoed by the Roman diffusion of lead, it is possible for the various mediums available to us may predate world systems in the same way, or refuse to for their specific reason.

The idea that the Internet embodies a technological ideal may not be inaccurate. The fallacies of the promises of ineractivity and the so-called empowerment of the ‘user’ aside, the Internet’s structure alone presents a proposition as to how the real world can be and transformed structured. The Roman’s ambient lead was a by-product. Today, the atomisation of all that it solid is pre-empted by email and wireless. The constriction of Rome the Arctic is a real possibility.


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