Synthesis by Tom Price | Yellowtrace

Synthesis 1. Polyester resin; polyurethane resin; bitumen. Approximate dimensions – H: 2000 mm / W: 330 mm / D: 330 mm.

 

Synthesis is a new body of work developed by London-based artist & designer  for his solo exhibition at the . This incredible project is the study of a dialogue between two contrasting materials – resin and tar – and their negotiation for space and identity when forced to become a single unified entity.

Petal-like cracks form through a careful manipulation of the catalysing process of the resin cluster. The tar initially appears densely black, but upon closer inspection, a network of fine green vapour trails can be seen drifting from a surface partially melted by the reaction of the curing resin. As the tar heats it expands, searching for pathways within the resin and rushes to claim open fissures, creating wafer thin golden slivers of coral-like protuberances. The effects of the synthesis of these two disparate elements – one black and dense; the other clear and liquid – results in a riot of colour and explosive formations that engage on both a macro and micro level.

Born in London in 1973, Tom Price draws on his training in both sculpture and design, his practice regularly delving into the grey areas between the two disciplines. Much of the work Price produces seeks to explore the untapped potential of familiar materials, encouraging them to behave in unfamiliar ways. His latest solo exhibition, titled Presence & Absence, is on now at the  in Kansas City (in the beautiful new extension by Steven Holl Architects), and runs through until January 2015.

Read on for a short Q&A with the artist to find out more about this epic art project. Extreme love!

 

Synthesis by Tom Price | Yellowtrace

Synthesis 1 (detail)

Synthesis by Tom Price | Yellowtrace

Synthesis 1 (detail)

Synthesis by Tom Price | Yellowtrace

Synthesis 1 (detail)

 

+ What was your inspiration and starting point for this project?

The majority of my work begins with an exploration of materials. In this case I was curious to see what could be achieved with resin.

Wherever possible I try to introduce a dose of entropy into my production processes to encourage materials to behave in peculiar ways. I was aware of the tendency for resin to form small fractures when mixed incorrectly, but what we uncovered went well beyond what I had seen before. Petal-like fractures revealed in early tests, although very beautiful, were a little too pretty and pristine by themselves so I set about looking for a material that could react with the resin and push the process a step further. I was drawn to the idea of introducing tar, as the two elements seemed so diametrically opposed in material terms – one a water clear liquid that sets hard and transparent; the other a densely black sticky semi-solid. The marriage of the two was phenomenal: Heat from the curing resin causes the tar to melt, but as the resin at this point is almost solid, the tar has very little room to expand. As cracks and fissures form within the setting resin liquid tar rushes to claim any available space culminating in a dramatic array of delicate and violent inner forms.

 

Synthesis by Tom Price | Yellowtrace

Synthesis 2. Polyester resin; polyurethane resin; bitumen. Approximate dimensions – H: 1200 mm / W: 330 mm / D: 330 mm.

Synthesis by Tom Price | Yellowtrace

Synthesis 1 (detail)

 

+ Your favourite thing about this project?

I love the fact that I have very little idea what has happened within the resin until it has all been sanded and polished. When released from their moulds the faces of the works are almost completely obscured by gunk and rough textures and it is only after a very labour-intensive cleaning and polishing process that the inner composition is revealed.

The huge diversity of form and colour inside each piece means that there is always something new and fascinating to discover. One of the most compelling aspects for me is that so much of what happens inside is way beyond my control, giving me a sense of shared authorship with the material itself. This allows me to appreciate the work on a much more objective level.

The other thing I find fascinating is the resulting variety of colour. This seems all the more improbable considering the two materials in their raw form appear absolutely colourless. Set within the resin, a fine green mist lifts from the surface of the tar revealing rich hues of deep blues, greens and turquoise, in addition to gold and black. The resin itself is mostly still clear, but in places it refracts light, splitting it into rich shades of amethyst pinks and purples.

 

Synthesis by Tom Price | Yellowtrace

Synthesis 3. Polyester resin; polyurethane resin; bitumen. Approximate dimensions – H: 300 mm / W: 290 mm / D: 290 mm.

Synthesis by Tom Price | Yellowtrace

Synthesis 3 (detail)

 

+ What did you learn during the project?

I learnt a lot about the characteristics of resin and tar. I also learnt to expect the unexpected to an even greater extent. I have always regarded this as an essential element in the production of my work, but the changing characteristics of the raw materials I buy has been a real test of my resolve. Minor tweaks by manufacturers to ‘improve’ a formula can be disastrous for what I try to do with them. I then find myself spending weeks in dialogue with arcane organisations trying to find a resolution to get back to square one. This happened to me with both the resin and the tar at different stages.

+ Would you have done anything differently?

Yes, lots. That’s what I’m doing at the moment. This process is infinitely adaptable and unpredictable and the results are constantly surprising – a little tweak here or there can produce dramatically different outcomes. For me that’s perfect as it keeps the work fresh and exciting!

 

 

Synthesis by Tom Price | Yellowtrace

Synthesis 1 & Synthesis 2

Synthesis by Tom Price | Yellowtrace

Synthesis 1 (detail)

Synthesis by Tom Price | Yellowtrace

Synthesis 1 (detail)

 

+ Any interesting, funny, quirky facts you could tell us?

I don’t think this body of work would have happened if the first batch of catalyst I ordered hadn’t been faulty. As I actively seek out abnormal behaviour in materials this happy accident was ideal for me. The real problems began when I needed to order more and realised that the new ‘unflawed’ batch behaved in a completely different way and absolutely refused to do anything interesting at all. As a result we spent the next two months testing, consulting experts, and trying to work out how to recreate what we had before. Although this interlude was incredibly frustrating and costly we did come through the other side much wiser and better informed with a larger arsenal of techniques and ingredients that in combination produce much more dynamic and varied results than we would have been able to achieve with just the original catalyst. So ultimately it did prove to be a very valuable, if rather stressful setback.

 

Synthesis by Tom Price | Yellowtrace

Tom Price Portrait.

Synthesis by Tom Price | Yellowtrace

Synthesis & coal tests & samples.

Synthesis by Tom Price | Yellowtrace

Synthesis & coal tests & samples.

Click here to watch embedded video, which shows how the crystalline fractures and fissures gradually form and grow within the Synthesis sculptures. Incredible.

 


[Images courtesy of . Photography by .]

 


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7 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Maris

    your fault is like our beginning of life in the universe …
    fault like our fortuity of our existence in universe… all mixed in the same time.. forces and colors
    at the same time I’m afraid and I can not stop watching…
    amazing effect of the formation life in the universe by the colors and forces in the space
    For me you stopped time and space of the universe in the block… THANK YOU for this sensual feeling
    If you make exhibitions pls try with this music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky : “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”

    Sorry for my English I trying to learn..:)

    Reply
  2. Avatar
    hamid

    hi
    its so fascinating can we do it in home?
    what is the type of resin used?
    is it so costly?
    thanks

    Reply
  3. Week 4 – Mallory Donahue IP 2017

    […] Tom Price held a solo exhibition show in 2014 called Synthesis. He explored the “dialogue between two contrasting materials – resin and tar – and their negotiation for space and identity when forced to become a single unified entity”. Price manipulates the catalyzing process of the resin to create delicate cracks and ridges. He uses tar to create intricate “green vapour trails” that intertwine with the resin cracks. By mixing two opposite materials, black and dense with clear and liquid, a variety of color and explosive formations are created to draw the viewer closer and closer. 1 […]

    Reply

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