Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen
Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen explore processes of production as cultural, personal and political practices. In their installation, B/NdAlTaAu, (2015) Cohen and Van Balen reverse the manufacture of hard drives, mining these devices for their natural, precious metals (as listed in the title: neodymium, aluminium, gold and tantalum), in order to create a new, manmade mineral.
Forty kilogrammes of destroyed hard drives were sourced from a data destruction service, a mountain of shiny deformed bricks that were scrapped out of the guts of computers. Mined out of soil, designed in the United States, made in China, destroyed in England. Labour starts in reverse, dissolving the virtual into the fake from the other end of the consumption chain... Neodymium (Nd) magnets are shredded with a water jet, tantalum (Ta) is filed out of capacitors and the gold (Au) recovered with acids. The aluminium (Al) platters – still holding their ones and zeros – are melted and recast in a sand mould. An artificial ore emerges from the earth, unexpectedly black.
In a new publication, Not What I Meant But Anyway, Eva Wilson writes: “The salvaged minerals and metals at the core of Cohen and Van Balen’s excavations and circulations remain unscathed and immutable throughout their itinerant co-option into a constantly revolving system. After all, this global system itself similarly relies on the fundamental continuity of its patterns of consumption. The frenetic movements and even the language of a Western techno-hegemonic world order, most clearly legible in the term ‘developing country,’ ultimately describe a system that is designed in order not to change. But while Cohen and Van Balen uncover the core components of its mainframe, they also imply that these components can function beyond it. Something human-made can be undone, and something prehistoric can be engineered.”
Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen work across film, installation and objects, examining the disconnect between man and technology, through the combination of natural and manmade materials, they reimagine production and assembly lines, reminding us of the globalised infrastructures that facilitate society. Their work traces processes of production in a cultural, social and political sense; looking at geopolitical, geological and biological aspects within the manufacturing industry and creating circumstances which engage the viewer to ask themselves how they feel about such processes and industries.
Neodymium, Aluminium, Gold, Tantalum