project team


haida gwaii museum
IKB learning centre
VIVO media arts centre
gulf of georgia museum






Irving K. Barber Learning Centre Exhibition

The photographs in professor Ruth Beer's exhibition Rocks of Interest To A Young Geologist engage with ideas inspired by the formations and visible properties in geological rock samples. Many of the rocks presented in these photographs were collected by a young geologist last summer in the mountains of BC, Yukon and Nunavut. They were collected because they are tangible examples of time, material, form and events. From an artist's perspective, in addition to formal and descriptive elements of color, texture and form, their intangible qualities are of interest as they reference dynamic shifts of contemporary experience juxtaposing our understanding of what we claim to know, the uncertainty of geological materials and forces that impact everyday life, and the romanticism of a future that is barely graspable.

The exhilarating excitement of their discovery at the intersection of knowledge and chance also operates in creative practice as a compelling process. Embodied in the rocks are records of events and places. These small objects that fit in the hand, in their weight, form and composition, also trace their own dynamic journeys through histories of almost unimaginable time and space. Each rock contains an intriguing measure of information of interest to a young geologist as it merges science and the imagination in geology's expanded field.

As "natural" sculptures removed from the landscape, their translation through photography is intended to highlight their oscillating between a modern and postmodern condition, of both certainty and uncertainty that is increasingly reflected in contemporary creative practice including sculpture and image-based artwork.

These photographs, that seek to make sense of the world in which we live, blur disciplinary boundaries to integrate scientific, and aesthetic, expressive possibilities of things. The artwork draws on events and ideas shared with geologists and their interest in materiality, ideas about time and the dynamic processes of creating form while embracing geology as a subject for expressing circumstances of the present. In describing a "geologic turn" in contemporary art, artist/educators Elizabeth Ellsworth and Jamie Kruse suggest that the word "geologic", that referred simply and directly to the science of geology, now contains new layers of meaning and sensation as a condition of daily life that takes into consideration the physical impacts of geological forces, that we now can create, that are geological in scale and effect.

The exhibition includes a display a personal collection of rocks acquired during the past year. In addition, Dr. Elspeth Barnes, Curator of the UBC Pacific Museum of the Department of Earth of the Ocean Sciences, has organized a display of rocks and minerals from the museum's collection to accompany the exhibition.

This exhibition extends a SSHRC research and creation project focused on the presentation of artwork in collaboration with cultural and heritage museums in western Canada.

Curated by Dr. Elspeth Barnes, Curator of the UBC Pacific Museum of the Department of Earth of the Ocean Sciences. Organized in collaboration with the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.