The Essential Diagrams, 2002

Photo: Courtesy of Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York

12 vinyl decals mounted directly on the wall
Overall dimensions variable

“Hey, if you don’t really believe in or care about global warming, mass migration, famine and drought in faraway places, almost-impossible science, your body, the drugs you take, breath, light, or love, or even where your favorite coffee will soon stop coming from, maybe this new materiality is not for you,” writes Matthew Ritchie in a reflection on contemporary philosophy. Indeed, new materialism, a philosophical investigation into the vitality of matter, has been driving his work for a long time. The Essential Diagrams resemble a series of scribbles, doodles, and notes, variously recorded “non-essential” thoughts and ruminations. Some are in the shape of molecular structures, mathematical formulas, and amoeba-like alien creatures. Scattered letters reveal cryptic messages hidden among the slick black forms. This exuberant, multi-part work playfully embraces the problem of how any diagrammatic system can collapse scientific, symbolic, and phantasmatic thought objects and connect highly abstract, factual, and linguistic representations. At times, diagrams and formulae express the fantasy of intellectual and rational superiority yet can only interpret circumstances from the standpoint of established knowledge systems. They are not confirmations of existing reality but ongoing reconfigurations of where and who we are.
Born in London, UK, in 1964. Lives in New York, US.