It’s not impossible to feel like you’re surveying Natural History when browsing the works of Alistair McClymont. See, for example, a wind-tunnel like machine that’s designed to hold a single drop of water sustained in mid-air:
Inflated sheets of steel which stretch like metallic balloons:
Or an installation which artificially creates rainbows via water misters and high power spotlights:
His entire catalogue is fascinating, without a doubt. But it demands observation—is it experimental science, or art? Does he represent a new breed of lab-based artwork, or is science’s natural spectacle simply á la mode?
McClymont responds with a dismissive shrug. To him, there’s little to no distinction between artistic practice and scientific methodology, with creativity catalyzing both—innovation leads to breakthroughs, while experimentation coalesces the results.
One of his most well known pieces is most indicative of the science-or-art debate around his work. Fully titled, The Limitations of Logic and the Absence of Absolute Certainty, it’s a far simpler machine than its name suggests. Incorporating fans, humidifiers, lights and scaffolding into a 10′ by 8′ construction, Limitations turns its immediate environment into a whirling channel of air and heat. In person, it’s an artificial tornado machine.
Right now, Limitations is on display at the Ars Electronica museum in Linz, Austria, where it’ll stay until this December. But as for McClymont’s next project, earlier this year he was chosen out of more than 60 highly-qualified applicants to be the Artquest Beam Time resident, placing him alongside practicing scientists at the Central Laser Facility in Oxfordshire, England. The media he’s uploaded to his blog show that he’s already up to some next-level stuff.
Watch the video of Limitations in action:
Read the full Creators project Q&A with Alistair McClymont here
Stay up-to-date with Alisatir during his Beam Time residency at his blog and on his website.
All photos courtesy of the artist.