Strata l Geology Museum

Solo show

Museu Geológico, Lisboa

05.04 to 03.05.2014

© Sérgio Costa

“Strata”: Ungrounding and Virtualisation in Sergio Costa´s ‘Wunderkammer’

“In Exhumation the distribution of surfaces is thoroughly undermined and the movements associated with them are derailed; the edge no longer belongs to the periphery; anterior surfaces come after all other surfaces, layers of strata are displaced and perforated, peripheries and the last protecting surfaces become the very conductors of invasion. Exhumation is defined as a collapse and trauma introduced to the solid part by vermiculate activities; it is the body of solidity replaced by the full body of trauma. As in disinterment — scarring the hot and cold surfaces of a grave — exhumation proliferates surfaces through each other. Exhumation transmutes architectures into excessive scarring processes, fibroses of tissues, membranes and surfaces of the solid body.”

Negarestani, R. (2008). Cyclonopedia. complicity with anonymous materials. Melbourne:

By following a Minerva´s flight of wonder in Costa’s experimental strata series, we follow a form of artistic experimentation given in a new diagramming strategy not only by the means of painting but as well by changes of dimension in new strata experiments as introduced by the anaglyphic principle in this new strata Series of Costa.

There is, however, a way more important new dimension in this series of strata from 2013-2014 starting with underdetermined proto-amorphous things: The forming of mesh of clay and the drying of the wet mesh through which its porosity appears in Strata #20 and #21, exhibited in a showcase before we enter the exhibition space. And even after transporting these frail underdetermined things into the realm of painting, in which we can see them as paradoxes (simultaneously a proto-brain slice or/and a slice of petrified toasted bread) our imagination while observing these things is unlimited in a trivial matching game of similiarity. The concreteness of these sub(jectival) objects brings us further due to its contextual embeddings and transport into the realm of a museum space, the geological museum, in the building of the Portuguese Academy of Sciences. Strata of Sergio Costa turn into a “real counterpart”, a virtual syncope of the petrified objects exhibited in the museum, an artistic principle of ungrounding and virtualization of the museological material space and its displayed objects.

In Strata #20 and #21 the porosity that is an openness of craters and valleys unlike its geological counterpart of sedimentation can be put into perspective as artistic strategy opposed to an geological sedimentation principle of stratification. The most easily observable change in this new experimental strata series of Costa in 2014 is the introduction of another perceptual dimension, the anaglyphic two color outlines that create a 3D effect of a 2D painting, a diagram based on the interplay of two colors added to the actual painting, virtualizing the stratification.

#Ungrounding Strata#
Costa´s Strata exhume the fixity of our habitual perception of things and thus strata as rock layers start decomposing, while not even the most hard rock on which religions belief to be build, escapes this virtualizing principle of de-stratification or ungrounding. By the introduction of new anaglypyic works of strata, Sergio Costa can now be seen in 3D, without any need to go to a multiplex cinema- the cinematic anaglyphic mode in 2014 reached the geological museum, it catapults the observer to a nature 2.0. The more the observer seems to recover in this optical illusion the “original” 3D structure of the object in study, in a “regrounding” of reality, the more he tries to root them on a platonic plane the more strata virtualize and ungrounds.

 „If geology, or the ‘mining process,’opens onto an ungroundedness at the core of any object, this is precisely because there is no ‘primal layer of the world’, no ‘ultimate substrate’ or substance on which everything ultimately rests. The lines of serial dependency, stratum upon stratum, that geology uncovers do not rest on anything at all, but are the records of actions antecedent in the production of consequents “Iain Hamilton Grant (2010) “Mining Conditions”. In: The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism, eds. Levi Bryant, Nick Srnicek and Graham Harman (Melbourne:, 2010), 41–46 here: 44

#Strata Wunderkammer#
The exhibition of Sérgio Costa transposes the Geological Museum intirely on the plane of his Strata. While presenting a transition of the scientific plane of geologic objects shows an artistic strategy of virtualization of a discrete and historical-material structured geological collection- that in itself still preserved by the influence of a Baroque intention of the Wunderkammer. Costa´s exhibition transports the entire museum onto the plane of his strata. Thus by showing a transition of the scientific plane of actuality of geological objects in a space-fold of the Museum space officially dedicated to art, Costa allows us to grasp the strategy of virtualization of stratification by the artistic diagrammatic machine of his paintings. This principle of virtualization becomes actualized by a showcase that displays Costa’s Strata three-dimensional Strata studies made of a demiurgic claylike material always already in decay, in rupture: material strata syncope. The interest of these strange object is exactly located in their fragility, their porosity exhuming strata in decay, a poromechanics of strata: A place where “[t]he cosmogenesis of decay unfolds within solidity, [and] spreads from interior to outer surfaces.” Negarestani, Cyclonopedia, 181–182

Alexander Gerner