Akeroyd Collection


Helen Marten, Orchids, or a hemispherical bottom, 2013

A range of objects is paraded, displayed, animated, and suspended from various display infrastructures and in different contexts. The camera’s eye scrutinizes them, lingers over them, pans, circles and zooms. Like a para-museology or a sanitized yet alluring world of strange taxonomy, these artefacts range from the surreal to the banal. There are toys, debris and raw materials, alongside food, human and animal bodies, and furniture. At times the objects are more diagrammatic, animated to explode or mutate, at others, they are rendered expressively like paintings or drawings. Similarly, the voiceover takes the viewer through a disparate journey that shifts in register throughout. Sometimes, explanatory or historic, sometimes anecdotal and personal, and frequently poetic or philosophical.

The visualizations we see are digital animations, and the world depicted is a fiction. At a certain point, the narrator exclaims; ‘You tell an octopus to be an elephant, and the octopus becomes an elephant’. This example of a speech act, whereby the act of saying something produces the very thing it names, seems exemplary of the greater truth of this work. To describe the world is to make it, and in these convoluted visual and sonic fictions Marten re-orders the signs and codes of experience and thinks the world anew. This is an act of destruction as much as it is of creation; meanings, taxonomies and systems of language and thought erode before us and yet offer an alluring sense of possibility and difference. The world as we know it is garbled, but in the process, the tools we share that govern meaning - our communication through semiotics and language - are exposed, offering some emancipatory potential for change.

MediumDigital media file
Duration19 minutes 24 seconds, looped
Editionof 6