Alison Sydenham 1530
'Mass Produce'; screen print on conveyor belts (x4), control boxes, steel brackets, sensors

I make paintings, prints, objects and installations. My approach often uses design-based processes, and makes connections between what is depicted and the materials used.

In my project ‘Bio In Security,’ I have used x-ray images to address systems outside of art: food production, biosecurity, nutrition, and medical technology. My work questions the ‘transparency’ of these systems. X-rays imply risk, as well as the idea that something may be damaged or broken, without this being overtly visible. 

Alison Sydenham 1516
Alison Sydenham 1530
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There is a history of both artists and scientists using x-ray machinery beyond its intended function. When artists engage with the world of science, the result is often a collaboration with experts, taking an unconventional approach to the subject and equipment. Working with the organisations Mercy Radiology and the Ministry for Primary Industries has enabled me to learn how the technology works and how to use it myself to create the original images. 

Alison Sydenham 1522

The development of the ‘mechanical eye,’ and with it the ability to see inside solid matter without dissecting it, brings with it a sense of omnipotence. It has equipped humanity to attempt to understand and control nature itself. This is a lens we have aimed particularly at our bodies, and our food.

Advancements in modern agriculture and shipping methods have nullified the very concept of seasonal produce, and certain ubiquitous and genetically modified species such as corn and soy now dominate the world’s crops. The kinetic installation, ‘Mass Produce,’ uses industrial conveyor equipment to allude to the globalisation of commercial produce. It references the transport and processing of agriculture, depicting neither the farm nor the home but the steps in between: an orchard packing house, the back room of a grocer’s, a supermarket counter. This concealed, transitory environment also implies customs security. Fresh produce, and the pests it can carry, are the most dangerous threat to New Zealand’s ecosystem, and imports are rigorously controlled.

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'Sweet Deal'; digital vinyl prints on conveyor (x1), motor, steel frame, reflectors

Due to the political nature of these topics, and a personal environmental sensibility, I consider my work to be within the field of eco-art. However the work does not seek to criticise, nor protest, but to present these issues in an objective, scientific way. It literally ‘opens them up’, and invites consideration, by addressing them in the one language which is universal: the visual.

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