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Exhibitions >> thales touch

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Exhibition Title: Thales Touch, 2011

Exhibition venue: Nan Giese Gallery, Charles Darwin University, NT

Thales' Touch
by Sarah Pirrie

To conceive water, rather than man or god, to be the 'reality of all things' (Nietzsche, 1962, p.42) This is the ancient Greek philosopher, Thales of Miletus' legacy - a philosophy of flows and becomings; never written down but posited to be understood in several ways.

Thales' touch is a watery one. Everything begins with moisture. It is a necessity for the survival of every organism from bacteria to humpback whale. Every animal's life begins in a watery seminal fluid (Halsey 2006 p.64).

Today no one is without a water bottle in hand- they are our tool for adaptability. We can survive and go anywhere as long as we carry our water with us. Carrying water negates our becoming-still, from becoming predictable and habitual. We know water to be active and transformative in direct contrast with our human nature that is reactive and imitative. For Thales water is composed of infinitely varied speeds whereas humans are constant (Halsey 2006 p.64).

The mangrove intertidal zone experiences the constant coming and going of water. Over time this has created a wonderland of life and community that accepts the continuous and irregular patterns of change (Groenewald 2010 p.1). Water bottles washed into the mangrove intertidal zone are part of the hyperobjects of waste; objects hugely distributed in time and space (Morton 2010). Discarded by us with intention or by mistake, they are our vessels of life returned to stillness remaining idle; gravestones to our inability to change.

And yet even these vessels of neglect have life. Through decomposition events, water assists in the decay of the bottles making a mockery of our reactive desires to contain, trap, fix and dominate life.

These bottles continue to exist for over 400 years, more at one with their ecology than the original users who hold firm in a belief that they only visit the intertidal zone rather than co-create it.

"We shall be playing the game of coexistence for a very long time" (Morton 2010)