Tu’i Malila was a Madagascan radiated tortoise said to have been given to the Tongan royal family by Captain Cook in 1777, and owned by them until its death in 1965, when it was estimated to have been 188 years old. This animal is referenced in Philip K. Dick’s seminal 1968 science fiction novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, a linkage that informs Eddie Clemens’ third solo exhibition at Bowerbank Ninow, First Edition, Third Hand. Navigating between history, fiction, technology and the everyday, Clemens positions the animal as a skeleton key that unlocks a potentially infinite web of textual and thematic correspondences and interrelationships.
Clemens has constructed an installation combining an active 3D printer and a video projection with sculptures incorporating first edition books and an original screenplay of Blade Runner. This body of work is part of a larger research project investigating how the beguiling alternate realities of popular culture narratives, particularly science fiction films, intersect with and flavour our experience of the world. To this end, Clemens invokes Tu’i Malila as an enigmatic, polyvalent figure that softens the boundaries between nature, culture and technology. The tortoise functions as a vessel, its shell a container for a range of narratives that connect the cybernetic to the Pacific.
This exhibition was made possible in part by the support of Creative New Zealand and the generosity of Ariel Moving Camera.
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