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Parys Mountain: Alchemy of Landscape 

ABOUT 

This website designed by Marie-Gabrielle Rotie comprises a digital archive containing three decades of Practice Research: 

Parys Mountain: Alchemy of Landscape is the culmination of over thirty years of documentation of this site conducted as a collaboration between  the sound and visual composer Nick Parkin and Artist/Performer Marie-Gabrielle Rotie. The research builds on a larger body of previous work concerning our relationship with stone, geology and landscape. 

Parys Mountain: Alchemy of Landscape contributes to, and expands upon, research within the fields of site-based art and performance, and also dialogues with geology and archaeology (Pearson, 2001).  The research aims to deconstruct both the romantic notion of the Sublime in relation to this landscape, and the modern quest for progress (Dillon, 2011; Schama, 2006), in order to underscore urgent ecological issues, enabling spectators to focus on questions of decay, time and history intrinsic to both the human body and the non-human world (Gablik, 1995; Smithson, 1979).

 

Parys Mountain: Alchemy of Landscape assembles material created over a thirty-year period, during which time technologies have radically shifted from analogue to digital. The resultant meshing of ‘vintage’ and contemporary documentary languages – embracing Super-8, projected slide and print film, field-recorded sound, digital visual and sonic technologies – and embodied research, consciously plays with notions of archaeology: our language of documentation involves the methodology of accumulating composite layers and our obsessive macro-documentation of the surfaces of the site itself. The act of documentation generates dialogue, opening questions of how we might embody a site (Smithson, 1967, Kwon, 2002). 

 

Parys Mountain is situated in Anglesey, North Wales. It has been mined for copper since the Bronze Age. During the eighteenth century it was the world’s largest and most productive copper mine.  Copper was extracted through a process of smelting in kilns and furnaces, calcination, and also precipitation in purpose-built ponds. Other by-products extracted from the site included sulphur, alum, vitriol and ochre pigments used to manufacture artists’ paint. The historical legacy of this industry has resulted in a unique and surreal landscape, distinguished by precipitation pools of intensely coloured red, white, black and green water, and similarly coloured lunar-like rocks. The mine was used for some time as a dump for domestic rubbish but since 2010 has been ‘restored’ and is now an Industrial Heritage site.

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