As well as the catalogue, I also produced a series of 152 sterling silver and steel rings titled The Evolutionary Pinch, based on the opposable finger and thumb (detail pictured).
My start point involved an exploration of what makes humans unique within the animal kingdom – namely their ability to use tools to make more tools. As a maker of things, I have a curiosity about the human drive to alter our immediate and extended environments and the role that tools play in this. The history of tools is longer than that of any other human artefact with our distant ancestors, Homo habilus, credited with the first tool creation and use 2 million years ago.
In modernity, regardless of individual culture, all family units possess a modern equivalent of the knife and hammer. The existence of these tools offers a direct link back to Habilus but unlike our ancestors our survival no longer depends on knowledge of how to actually use a hammer or knife. The average city-dwelling human of the 21st century buys most things and makes almost nothing.
This collaboration reflects on the present changes in relation to humanity’s skills to make and use tools, our loss of desire to understand how things are made and the consequent loss of knowledge that allows humans to fix their own things. The main technique used is the lost wax casting method. A process relatively un-changed for more than 5,700 years.
Several characteristics that make humans unique in the animal kingdom are given credit for man’s evolution to behavioural modernity. The opposable finger and thumb is key to Homo sapiens’ power and precision grip. We can flex the ring and little fingers toward the base of our thumb giving humans not only a powerful grip but exceptional dexterity that allows us to hold and manipulate tools and to use these tools to make new tools. The opposable finger and thumb is the focus of my first series of works within the developing body of work titled Tool As Jewel.
The rings were installed in a large slab of Macrocarpa wood chosen for it’s totemic proportions. I used the binary conversion of a piece of text – Desire hath no rest – as the organizing principle for the rings. They were installed on either the vertical or horizontal plane depending on their correspondence to a zero or a one (as per below).
The idea that Desire hath no rest comes from the writings of Saint Augustine. It’s a potent summation of the human condition. In 2015 I exhibited a work of the same name at Toi Poneke in Wellington, where I converted this quote to it’s corresponding binary digits (below). The specific arrangements of one hundred and fifty-two zeroes and ones or bit strings, was represented on the wall in that instance as vertical slivers of wood (ones) and water worn stones (zeroes).