Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI)
An art project led by artist/geologist Jon Adams in response to the 2012 Cultural Olympiad
The Geological Metaphor
The study of Geology is derived from truths ‘written in stone’ - evidence contained within the rock layers themselves, collated and analysed as a stratigraphy or story that forms the Earth’s autobiography and which can be connected by time and mapped in space.
For deeply personal (autobiographical) reasons, the artist has adopted geological themes and metaphors to interpret the final outcomes of this project – an approach that might be ironic and reveal new perspectives on disability, the arts and the geological sciences.
Key definitions in geology naturally lend themselves to disability, the arts and geological methodology. Rich descriptive language such as deformation, transgression, unconformity, margin … allow a fundamental reinterpretation of social disability. As an independent, impartial geologist looking for evidence with geologically enquiring eyes, seeking ‘the hidden’, the ‘unknown fossils’ that tell the story, the artist seeks to discover and capture moments in time and place the evidence within scientific frameworks and methods. This data will then be reinterpreted and ‘intimate emotional responses’ presented on film and woven into an alternative but accurate geological stratigraphy of the evolution of the Cultural Olympiad in the South East. The work, outcomes and processes will form an internationally available archive at the University of Portsmouth, accessible to all.
The creation of a map, in particular, will be influenced by those findings and made in conjunction with a new cultural partnership, the British Geological Survey. A geological map is not only a work of art in its own right, but read properly, looks beneath the surface at the hidden influences that shape the landscape above. The map conveys different evidence to different people who ‘read’ the contours and see the ‘base information’. The obvious surface topography which at first glance can then influence the way we sense our place in the order of things before we delve deeper. Geological maps can be used to support environmental risk assessments, and to reconcile issues by linking underground strata, site selection, economic factors, etc, but all depends on the detail and quality of the information and what’s left uncertain in-between the sites mapped.
As a child the artist learnt to read the landscape before he could read about the landscape in the books he craved to interpret. Social unacceptability and misunderstanding at school prevented him from training as an artist, however he gained a degree in geology before turning back to the arts to become a successful illustrator and conceptual artist. The artist’s supposed impairments - Aspergers and Dyslexia - enable him to sense this art-science culture connection as ‘natural’ and see the world he inhabits in a whole new light. This project provides a melange of ideas through curiosity, the desire to collect, to ‘accumulate’ scientific fact/ knowledge and physical found ‘samples’ – all of which is inherent in Aspergers and the artistic creativity of Dyslexia.
The project seeks not only to observe but to influence the changes and transitions inspired by The Games, London 2012 and the opportunity the Cultural Olympiad brings. Its ideals not only convey the ethos of the London 2012 games but seek to unify a past that the artist has kept concealed - searching beneath the artist and the geologist.
Look About is part of Accentuate, the London 2012 Legacy Programme for the South East. Accentuate is funded by Legacy Trust UK, creating a lasting legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games across the UK, SEEDA and the Regional Cultural Agencies.
Jon is lead Geologist to 'Look About' and 'Geologist in Residence' to Accentuate.