The Age of Oil

The Age of Oil is a sculpture series by Akane Takayama which looks at our relationship with fossil fuel. The work is executed in thick, heavy injection moulded plastic forms. In this density of form and purpose, there is a blackness which is not about surface but of molecular mass. In the presence of these works, we find that deep stick darkness which speaks of raw, crude oil, a tar of a palette which we fear may stick to our fingers and clothes, mat our hair and clog up our lungs if we dare to reach out and touch.

Takayama has produced these sculptures in forms which evoke specific ideas of concept and yet, on close inspection and proper consideration, we find that what we at first seem to recognise is not at all what it is we are looking at. There are four sculptures in the series covering the past, the present and the future.

The Age of Oil: Past. An almost antediluvian image, perhaps an ant like head, maybe an amphibian, certainly strange and unfamiliar. The eyes look like car indicator lights and the lines and grooves of the piece seem as though shaped in a wind tunnel. But ultimately all recognition is little more than the projection for this is simply a form made out of an oil derived substance which is intended to evoke a sense of the past. There are no car indicator lights, there is no ant or amphibian, there is just a sculpture of form in black dark plastic.

The Age of Oil: Present. This towering work immediately gives the impression of a fish rising up out of the water, a salmon perhaps. Maybe a salmon rising up through an oily, polluted sea in search of a fly. Again though, when we look closely, this is no fish that ever lived, this is just a form, a shape created to convey an idea and designed to allow our own perceptions to attach to that form.

The Age of Oil: Future – Digitech. A fluid spill captured in a moment, smoothly seeping into a form on which sits conical shapes. Perhaps a UFO? Maybe a high tech plane? Despite its smaller scale and lesser use of oil, Digitech implies something beyond the simplicity we see once we study closely. If this is a future it is one we know to be there but cannot predict.

The Age of Oil: Future – Changeling. Here we see the evolution of form but from what to what we cannot really tell.

In the heavy constituency of these works, Takayama has managed to create iconic, powerful forms. So much so that when first displayed in a gallery some low individual broke in at night and stole a piece. Maybe it is seen as a compliment that work is worth stealing but we do not see it that way.