A World Undone [Protolith]
Executed in 2012, A World Undone revolves around a single, metaphorically rich substance, drawing on geological research into an ancient mineral, Zircon, unearthed in remote Western Australia. These rocks are now studied, like a time capsule, revealing intriguing clues about the state of the planet more than 4 billion years ago. Mangan procured a sample of the material and reduced it to a fine dust that he then filmed, in flux, with a high-speed video camera. Though drawing on ‘hard’ science and rooted in empirical techniques, the piece explores the aesthetic, philosophical and even mythological potential of cutting-edge geophysical research.
Nicholas Mangan’s research-driven practice gives rise to films, videos, and installations dealing primarily with histories of contested sites and materials. A keen awareness of media and their own (art) histories informs his finished works. The unifying themes of Mangan’s oeuvre to date include the geopolitics and economics of energy, and histories of exchange and wealth, both timely issues in the era of ‘post-peak’ fossil fuels and neoliberal globalization. Much of Mangan’s research focuses on the geography of the Pacific Rim, an emerging pivot of the neo-colonial global economy which also harbors a certain unconscious of Euro-American anthropological and economic thought.