SCRAP CLOUD

THEORY FICTION | DATA VISUALISATION | 2019

In September 2018, a few of my students from the ‘AD3’ ‘Radical Co-Authorship Unit’, lead by Simone Ferracina, decided to retrieve a series of LiDAR scans of a scrapheap at the Dalton Scrapyard in Edinburgh for their project. I had a chance of working on the data and never having seen the place, I started an archaeological task of exhumation on the point-cloud, by visualising, simulating and re-animating it further. Interestingly the bodies of the students and the workers appears and dissolves within the materials of the landscape as LiDAR has erased all distinctions. The visualisations are of two types, raw and fruiting. The raw ones are simulated with minimum computational input while the fruiting bodies are simulated as bio-logical growths.

Venturing into the scrap-fog felt similar to that unnamed astrobiologist from Jef VanderMeer’s ‘Annihilation’, who journeys into a transitional xeno-eco-system, termed as Area X’. Similar to the point-cloud of the scrapheap—in Area X an unidentifiable agent transforms the terrain and annihilates the ontological difference between human and non-human. The terrain manifests as a divine system, or maybe it is just matter at its most ecstatic, matter at its most vibrant, the nonhuman at its most alive—so alive it annihilates not only a single human self but the category of human altogether. The point-cloud reveals a similar scenario, where the fruiting-bodies contaminates the human observers, melding the human with the eco-system they are observing. Identical in the scrap-heap the erasure of materially necessary for personhood is obliterated and annihilated. Where the border distinguishing the self-in-body from the environment becomes too porous, the ontological insecurity leads to an osmotic reanimation of a third-kind, a radical openness.

[LiDAR Data Collected by Cameron Angus, Jamie Begg and Hannah Davis.]