July 31, 2014

Mineral Monsters

18th Street Arts Center
Miljohn Ruperto & Aimée de Jongh, Rots I, 2014. Drawing.

Miljohn Ruperto brings the Artist Labs into dialogue with science and philosophy. In collaboration with animator Aimée de Jongh and neuroscientist Rajan Bhattacharyya, he is investigating the speculative possibilities of mineral “deformities” inspired by Georges Canguilhem’s text, “Knowledge of Life.” The three come together to grapple with a particular assertion by Canguilhem, a philosopher of science, that “there are no mineral monsters,” or rather that the scientific category of mineral is incompatible with human notions of deformity.

Mineral Monsters delves into a space wherein humans are irrelevant, unable to project their own attributes onto or against the material world. The work then troubles that space by introducing visual aspects that trigger our implicit, negative responses, such that the neutral tenor of Canguilhem’s position shifts to a more troubling, oppositional one. Ruperto uses the Artist Lab as a working studio in which to untangle the relationship between science and philosophy, to contemplate the ways in which our categorization of natural phenomena both shapes and hinders our broader conceptualization of life. Working together with de Jongh, Ruperto creates computer-generated visuals of forms derived from his research and from conversations with Bhattacharyya that are based in concrete scientific principles.

Canguilhem, a French philosopher and physician, served as a mentor to many scholars and philosophers, notably Foucault and Derrida. His work often questions accepted science, arguing that it serves to reduce organisms to neatly functioning and predictable machines when in fact biology is complex and subject to wide variation. According to Canguilhem, all minerals exist in nature, whether they contain mutations or not, and thus the idea that there exists typical and atypical varieties of minerals is simply a human construction. Ruperto and his collaborators use Canguilhem’s negation of human potential for influence over nature as the starting point for a meditation on the basic nature of humans to be governed by attraction and repulsion.

Miljohn Ruperto was born in 1971 in Manila, Philippines, and lives and works in Los Angeles. He received a BA in Studio Art from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1999, and an MFA in Sculpture from Yale University in 2002. His work has been exhibited at several venues, notably at the Whitney Biennial in 2014 at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and in Made in L.A. 2012 at The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

18th Street Arts Center is the largest continuous artist residency program in Southern California. Its core gallery program, Artist Labs, stimulates public dialogue around the role of artists in society through process-based, commissioned projects intending to foster exploration and experimentation and provide in-depth opportunities for artists to critically develop their practice. Structured as both a residency and an exhibition, individual artists or collectives develop new work and generate provocative programming. 

This program has been made possible with funding by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and Andy Warhol Foundation.



18th Street Arts Center presents Mineral Monsters, an Artist Lab residency and exhibition

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