Car and Ammonites speaks to our ideas of a relationship between nature and humanity. In a breathless synthesis, Takayama places the ammonites not on top of but in integration with the fabricated vehicle. Car and Ammonites are one, they are the same, we can see no join and the whole composition, though incongruous of form, is achieved with a reciprocation of harmony between the elements. This is Takayama’s use of juxtaposition in a refined and intellectually challenging display.
We use our cars today for many purposes but we have also created for them the role of status symbol. Our minds are invaded by marketing and advertising telling us that our car denotes who we are and we believe such nonsense. This manufactured metal and plastic utility carries more than our bodies, it transports our desires and ambitions. We perceive it as a statement about our technological superiority over nature and in its wind tunnelled form our car carves our minds towards ideas of our own exceptionality. We believe ourselves to be something more than just animals, something greater than nature, we set ourselves apart from life as something special.
However, when we step back and look at Car and Ammonites, we can open our thoughts to other ideas. The fossilised ammonite bed created by Takayama reveals the shells in which living beings travelled over 200,000,000 years ago. These shells were formed through an evolutionary response to a need for streamlining; not in a wind tunnel but in the currents of a sea (both being fluid dynamics). They laid down their lives and the natural process of sedimentation and fossilisation captured a memory of their existence from a time so long ago it all but defies our comprehension.
This fossil bed of ammonites only exists because of the natural processes of our world. So too with the car, it is of plastic and metals formed by the natural world. The car is a streamlined shell in which we travel. Some may argue that the manufacture is not a natural process but can we ask ourselves if this is just a vanity of thought? How is a termite mound, something we perceive as natural, not a manufacture? How is a hermit crab selecting a shell a natural process but not use of pre-fabrication? We is our own natural use of natural resources different to everything else in the world of ‘animal’?
In Car and Ammonites, Takayama is making a statement about ourselves. What we believe to be our technology, our culture and our superiority is being questioned. In the end, we are all carbon based, we are all natural and therefore how can anything we do be supra-natural or un-natural? As we race towards gloabl warming in defiance of any rational politics, will our cars be found in archaeological layers by the life forms of the future? Perhaps our carbon, oily bodies, when stripped of their water, will grease into place the fossils of the future and those future life forms will ask, “How is it they did not understand the relationship between what they were doing and what then happened to them?”.