The Tempering

The Tempering ()
(Battery composed of earth, water and anaerobic bacteria; whip; perspex; rubber; wire; aluminium; beech wood; pine; nema34 stepper motor; Arduino)
750mm x 1000mm x 3100mm

At the top of the stairs, through a long corridor, around the corner, you will find a room with an artefact. It is a body of sorts, composed of a whip wielded by an arm affixed to a palanquin. A vessel extends from the palanquin, which contains a rarefied mixture of heat, water, earth and the Old Friends–the ones we now call bacteria. When the Old Friends flex, an electric shiver causes the arm to writhe and flail, whip in hand.

The Tempering is a robotic installation that attempts imbue primordial elements – water, earth and bacteria – with a vital psychological force. It explores the agency of nonhuman actors from the environment by using an emerging technology called microbial fuel cells (MFCs)–batteries made from water and mud–to create low voltages that trigger a mechanical arm to swing a whip in the gallery. Using mud collected from Herdsman Lake as the agent which “controls” the whip, The Tempering questions the passive role typical given to nonhumans elements, especially in the age of the Anthropocene.


2019 Cool Change Contemporary, Perth, AU


The Tempering: Old Friends, Pressing Conversations
by Dr. Laetitia Wilson, Cool Change Contemporary: Exhibition Catalogue