“Blinman Slag” is an art/science documentary and exhibition project focusing on mining slag waste from the Blinman Copper Mine in the Northern Flinders Ranges of South Australia. Examining slag from historical, geological, mineralogical and cultural perspectives, the film explores the strange beauty of mining waste as a window into the enormous forces humankind exerts upon the earth.
This documentary also incorporates the standalone audio-visual work “Metamorphism”, a collaboration between myself and sound artist Dugal McKinnon.
There are three main types of rock on earth; sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rock. Sedimentary rock forms from the gradual accretion of sediment in water, and igneous rocks form through volcanic processes. Metamorphic rocks are a little different: they are formed from other rock types through the application of immense heat and/or pressure, usually through tectonic activity deep within the earth. Thus, metamorphism refers to processes and forces of geological change.
This film explores the idea that we can understand slag as a kind of anthropogenic metamorphic rock, and human activity as a third form of metamorphic change. The forces we exert upon the earth are immense, but they are frequently rationalized within narratives of technological progress or economic necessity. While anti-mining activism uses public action and protest to draw attention to the negative environmental and social effects of resource extraction, this project takes a different approach, seeking new ways to manifest and image the changes wrought upon the earth by human activity.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS and SUPPORT
This film features the music and composition of three major sound artists; Mike Cooper, Dugal McKinnon and Rafael Anton Irisarri. It has also been produced with the assistance of a large number of people and organisations, including the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association, the Heritage Blinman Mine, the State Library of South Australia, Geoscience Australia, the National Mineral and Fossil Collection, Southern Cross University, School of Arts and Social Sciences and the SCU Environmental Analysis Laboratory.
Blinman Slag Samples. Grayson Cooke, 2018.
Blinman Slag Dump. Grayson Cooke, 2018.